Journalism in the Public Interest

Ways to Get Involved: Patient Safety

Meet the Reporters

Blair Hickman
Olga Pierce
Marshall Allen
Charles Ornstein

Community Spotlight

“You can learn more about the restaurants where you eat, than the hospitals where you get surgery.”

6 myths on hospitals and patient safety: our new interactive, made in a 5-day sprint with FRONTLINE. Congrats to all! 

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How can we improve accountability in medicine?

An estimated 1 million people or more are harmed in the hospital every year, from infections to injuries to surgical mistakes.

ProPublica reporters and a panel of medical experts are answering your patient safety questions today at 1 pm ET. Who is responsible? And how can we fix it? Ask your questions here, or tweet with the hashtag #MedErrorsChat.Read More

An estimated 1 million patients or more are harmed every year. Considering the odds, you may want to read this:

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Stay Informed

Before you go to the hospital, make sure you check its track record.

The Association of Health Care Journalists (ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein is on the board of directors) just released a news app that lets you search inspection reports state-by-state. The reports date back to January 2011, and previously were available only through FOIA requests. Thanks to the AHCJ for this resource. 

Should Being a Doctor Have a Cut-Off Age?

Interesting discussion going on in ProPublica’s patient harm Facebook group about whether or not doctors should be “cutoff” after a certain age. Weigh in with your thoughts. 

A couple thoughts from the community:

“It would be difficult to set a firm age, but I also think it’s important for doctors, particularly surgeons to be encouraged to recognize when it’s time to step down. My father-in-law is an ophthalmologist who recently decided to stop doing surgery at 75 – not because he couldn’t physically do it anymore, but because at his age he didn’t want the extra stress. He’s also part of a large practice with  many young(er) surgeons, so he will continue to see patients but refer the surgical cases. I wish all doctors were so self aware.” - Christian John Lillis

“Age is not the issue: competency is. A physician’s license should be bestowed as a privilege, not an entitlement and sham peer medical boards will continue to be exposed by patient harm.” – Joleen Chambers.

“I agree that age should not be an issue for competent doctors, and many of the older ones who are old school are much more compassionate and willing to work the old fashioned way: putting the interests of the patient first! Some even do housecalls yet!” – Veronica James

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How You Can Help ProPublica Cover Patient Safety

By Marshall Allen

Among the more active members of our Facebook group on patient safety, Veronica James stands out.

She joined soon after we started the group in May and shared the story of her mother, who suffered a bedsore and had her breathing tube accidentally dislodged in a long-term acute-care hospital. James believes poor care contributed to her 90-year-old mother’s death.

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In 2009, the health care system wasted an estimated $765 billion – more than the entire budget of the Department of Defense – according to a report by the Institute of Medicine.

The system is hemorrhaging money. So our health care reporte Marshall Allen wants to know: What do you think can be done to stop it? Have you had experiences with any medical facilities working in innovative ways to cut costs? 

Weigh in.Read More