Skip to main content.

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.

Picture of William Heisel

When historians write the history of ghostwriting in U.S. medicine, they will mark Sept. 17, 2009 as pivotal.

Picture of William Heisel

Even in his infamy, Dr. Daniel Carlat, founder of The Carlat Psychiatry Report, is popular with drug companies. Carlat was invited recently by Schering-Plough to help promote a new drug.

Picture of William Heisel

The medical examiner called Dr. Bernard N. Bass with some bad news: one of his
patients had been found dead. Bass refused to sign the death certificate.

Picture of William Heisel

A reporter gets a call from the hypothetical Council for Making Sick Kids Smile about an event being sponsored on an otherwise sleepy Sunday. The reporter heads out to the event, hoping for a quick local page filler, and comes back to the newsroom with a great-sounding story with quotes from a well-spoken university professor and a teary mom and a photo of a sick and smiling child holding balloons nuzzling with a baby koala bear.

What reporters in this situation rarely ask is: who founded this council and why?

Picture of William Heisel

In the end, the dirty dentist didn't get away with it.

A Collier County Circuit Court judge last week sentenced David Rees Sperry to 10 years in prison for lewd and lascivious battery after Sperry attacked a 14-year-old boy at a beach near Naples, Florida, and forced the boy to perform oral sex on him.

Picture of William Heisel

My former colleague at the Los Angeles Times, Myron Levin, played an important role in unearthing new information about cell phone use and car accidents.

Picture of William Heisel

Medical malpractice cases can live or die on the testimony of an expert witness. Defense
attorneys will go after the expert's credentials with every tool in their kit.

One would think that plaintiff's attorneys suing the federal government on behalf of a
patient would make sure they had a doctor with impeccable experience ready to take the stand and bolster the patient's case.

Instead, they hired Dr. Alex T. Zakharia.

Picture of William Heisel

Johnson & Johnson — maker of tearless baby shampoo and sugarless sugar — has devised another innovation: the time-traveling scientist.

This may sound astonishing, true believers, but read on!

Pages

Announcements

The pandemic is far from over but crucial COVID-19 protections and benefits are gone. In our next webinar, we'll explore the end of renter protections, unemployment benefits and other emergency relief, and what it means for the nation’s pandemic recovery and the health and well-being of low-income people and their communities. Glean story ideas and crucial context. Sign-up here!

Are you passionate about helping journalists understand and illuminate the social factors that contribute to health and health disparities at a time when COVID-19 has highlighted the costs of such inequities? Looking to play a big role in shaping journalism today in the United States?  Apply now for one of our positions. 

CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY

Follow Us

Facebook


Twitter

CHJ Icon
ReportingHealth