Contest Entries

Danger Zones

Entrants: Joe Carlson

Affiliation: Modern Healthcare

Trade Publications

Year: 2011

Place: First Place

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

Judges’ comments: This took on a too-rarely-covered topic: criminal hazards in the places where workers should be safest, medical care facilities. We were impressed with the quality of the writing, editing and lively packaging of this sweeping series.

List date(s) this work was published or aired.

Oct. 17, Nov. 14 and Dec. 19, 2011
See this entry.

Provide a brief synopsis of the story or stories, including any significant findings.

The point of this series was to examine a few of the kinds of security risks facing modern hospitals, and some of the latest countermeasures. Risks included attacks on clinicians and building fires, while security measures ran the gamut from security cameras to data analysis.

Explain types of documents, data or Internet resources used. Were FOI or public records act requests required? How did this affect the work?

For the hospital-assaults story, I spent hours upon hours scouring for information on incidents of violence inside of hospitals. However, primarily the information for this series came from good old fashioned interviews with humans.

Explain types of human sources used.

Most hospital officials I queried for these stories declined to speak with me, because they were so concerned about being associated with violence, fires, and zealous security. Nevertheless, I found numerous human sources who could convey personal stories to help illustrate the documented trends about security threats.

Results (if any).

I would hope that our coverage of the issue prompted hospital CEOs to think about the way they respond to security threats, but we did not receive any letters that said so.

Follow-up (if any). Have you run a correction or clarification on the report or has anyone come forward to challenge its accuracy? If so, please explain.

No corrections were run, and no challenges to the accuracy of these stories came to light.

Advice to other journalists planning a similar story or project.

Understand that most hospitals don't see much upside in talking about taboo topics like security threats. Therefore, stay tenacious and be prepared for lots of rejections. Also, like all good journalism, make sure you verify people's stories independently whenever possible.