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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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While he was on probation for failing to have a surgeon handle a patient's bowel repairs, Dr. John Perry continued his dangerous ways -- this time with a cancer patient who should have seen an oncologist.

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When medical boards are at their best, they focus on the types of poor judgment calls that hurt patients. But boards also care about other things: when doctors don’t pay their taxes, how well doctors keep up their books, and who they date.

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Would parents do anything differently if they were told that there were a higher than expected number of cases of babies with birth defects happening around the same time that they were pregnant or just recently had a child?

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News of a cluster of birth defects in Eastern Washington has all the makings of a true medical horror story: children being born missing parts of their brain and authorities withholding information from scared parents. But there’s another story here.

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The records of a doctor in Washington State with a history of injuring patients during surgery will vanish from public review, if legislation under consideration gets passed.

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As with much of the science around valley fever, the evidence base is still being built -- studies are scarce; data collection was erratic for years and continues to be spotty; and understanding the health effects of weather is a big, complicated task.

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When a Jamaican woman who had been held at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center died last week, it was just the latest in a series of troubling events at U.S detention centers.

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John F. Kennedy made one of the most lasting contributions to public health by appointing Luther Terry as U.S. Surgeon General, because Terry turned the world’s attention to the dangers of tobacco smoking.

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One would think that hospitals everywhere would be looking at the VA's success and saying, “How do I get in on this?” But even where the results are stunning – in Kentucky – hospitals are not choosing to replicate the initiative.

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A recent report by a federal agency found that prison workers who live in the community are suffering from valley fever in large numbers. In their case, the prisons themselves cannot easily be blamed.

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