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William Heisel's Antidote: Investigating Untold Health Stories

William Heisel, former investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times, writes about investigative health reporting. He is currently the director of global engagement at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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A good friend of mine recently underwent a significant surgery. Several weeks out, he was still experiencing some negative side effects. When he asked the surgeon about it, he didn’t get much more than a blank stare.

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Contributing editor William Heisel shares a few of his favorite health stories from the past year in the second of two posts.

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Contributing editor William Heisel shares a few of his favorite health stories from the past year in the first of two posts.

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Frustrated and frightened by her experience trying to find the sperm donor who allowed her to conceive, Gloria Fraser went looking for answers online. When she found the Donor Sibling Registry, her anticipation quickened.

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Dr. Scott Bickman lost his California medical license, but not before federal, state and local authorities missed numerous chances to prevent harm to patients. Do we need an Amber Alert for dangerous, back-alley clinics?

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When it comes to public health research, North Carolina has made contributions far beyond its small population size. A quick look at several key studies shows how death records and other data from the state have made a huge impact.

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In North Carolina, the process of recording deaths has been a slow, paper-only process that creates huge lags in time and makes swift, efficient decision-making much more difficult. That could change as the state moves to digitally modernize its system, and none too soon.

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A Southern California anesthesiologist was stripped of his ability to prescribe addictive drugs by the DEA in 2011. But the state's medical board didn't take away the doctor's license until just last month. Why is the board so slow in taking action?

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An ocean view and a smoothie bar do not have any bearing on the quality of health care being delivered by doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a simple way to compare hospitals?

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A man walks down a crowded street loaded with the potential to destroy hundreds of lives. He’s not wearing a bomb — he’s carrying a mutation in his genes that can cause the heart to beat out of rhythm and stop. Worse, no one can seem to track him down.



This year saw a scorcher of a summer, the hottest on record. Worse, it could be the coldest summer we’ll see in our lifetimes. In this webinar, we’ll glean lessons and insights from a yearlong Los Angeles Times investigation into extreme heat. We’ll also identify gaps in state and federal tracking efforts, and outline policy changes that could help. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism's Impact Funds provide reporting support — funding and mentoring — to journalists who think big and want to make a difference. 

Apply today for our National Impact Fund for reporting on health equity and health systems across the country. 

Apply today for our California Impact Fund for reporting that brings untold stories to light in the Golden State. 


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