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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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In April, the governor of Oklahoma signed a bill that requires doctors to check a state-run database of patients and prescriptions before writing a new prescription for addictive medications. That makes the state a national leader in efforts to track such prescriptions and curtail abuse.

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Organ transplants are increasing at a faster rate than the population in the U.S., but not all transplant programs are created equal. Knowing where to find the relevant data can help you dig deeper and explore regional variations in wait times and success rates.

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'Tis the season for thousands of would-be doctors to line up in caps and gowns and receive their degrees before heading off to residency programs. These programs are accredited by ACGME, a group you should know about — lost accreditation can be a big story.

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State medical boards should transform themselves from boards composed mainly of doctors to a model where members of the general public occupy most of the board seats, according to consumer advocates. The push for change follows on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

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A strong relationship with the county coroner or medical examiner and an understanding of autopsies and forensic investigations will serve you well on the health beat. Here's how to make use of these resources, while still remaining empathetic to those grieving their loss.

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Death and birth records are crucial to public health and health reporting. They can help verify causes of death, point you to family members, or allow you to track larger public health trends. Here's how to start using them for your stories, if you aren't already.

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The University of Minnesota is replacing the chairman of its psychiatry department following two scathing reviews of its safety protocols in research involving human subjects and its recruitment of a troubled man who later died by suicide in a schizophrenia drug trial.

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When reporting on hospitals, it pays to download and read the hospital’s Joint Commission report. These reports are an important first step in understanding the basic outlines of how a hospital is performing relative to others.

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Contributing editor William Heisel looks back over last week's annual gathering of the Association of Health Care Journalists and shares some of his favorite tips and lessons from the bounty of panels and conversations on hand at the conference.

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Headed to the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference in Santa Clara this week? It's always hard to pick from the annual bounty of presentations, but contributing editor William Heisel's selection of don't-miss sessions will get you started.

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