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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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Sure, data from that bold new health study sounds amazing. But keep these five tips in mind before writing about it and you'll steer clear of some major reporting sinkholes.

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When reporting on risk factors that shape health, it's not uncommon for critics to suggest you've confused causation with correlation. Here are three steps you can take to ensure your reporting can weather such storms of doubt.

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Headed to Cleveland this week for AHCJ's 2016 conference? Contributing editor William Heisel highlights some great panel discussions you won't want to miss.

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The case of Dr. Reinaldo de los Heros illustrates a troubling tendency for critical information about a physician to go missing. State medical boards could do much more to keep the online paper trail intact over time.

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Finding out about a doctor's record from state medical boards isn't as easy as it should be. Consider the story of Kelly Deyo, who died of a prescription overdose last year. Her doctor's record spans four states, but the details aren't easy to unearth.

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Just because a medical board takes action, it doesn’t mean that the action is adequate. Consider the case of Dr. Reinaldo de los Heros, a Maine psychiatrist who columnist William Heisel first wrote about back in 2010.

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When you can't find the data you need and you end up building your own reporting database, you very likely will be criticized. Here's how to prepare for a few of the most common criticisms.

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Let's say you asked for data during the early stages of reporting, but the agency in question told you, "Tough luck." Contributor William Heisel offers tips on how to fill an empty spreadsheet with pluck and will.

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You don’t have to be a math whiz to make this calculation: If you see a chart, map or visualization, there must be data behind it. It's a good practice for reporters to ask for the underlying data.

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If you have a story that needs to be told, don't wait for a huge attachment to show up in your inbox. Hunt for the data that will help you tell your story. And keep in mind that a data expert can be an invaluable guide along the way.

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