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Illinois

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After a 30-year career writing about health, Susan Brinks found herself in the throes of her own medical story.

She has been a freelancer since being laid off from the Los Angeles Times in October 2008, and her COBRA -- the post-employment extension of her health insurance -- runs out on July 20.

Picture of William Heisel

As a health writer for a newspaper, I used to tease reporters who would say, “I have calls in” when they were asked about something happening on their beat.

“You have calls in? Why are you waiting for someone to call you back? Call their boss and their boss’s boss until you get your questions answered.”

Yet in Monday’s post about the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation, I basically told readers, “I have calls in.”

And my editor called me on it.

Picture of William Heisel

Surely if a doctor has gone to trial in a malpractice case and been ordered to pay millions by a judge or jury, this would catch the attention of the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation.

This is what I was thinking when reading about some recent huge malpractice judgments against doctors in the Chicago area. I tried to see if any information about these payments showed up in the state’s professional license lookup system.

Every attempt ended in disappointment.

Picture of William Heisel

When I sent my last Doctors Behaving Badly post to my editor, she responded with a bunch of great questions:

How is it possible to take down a major database that most states have?

Does this mean no one can check their doctor online now?

Picture of William Heisel

For medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago, Dr. Robert Levi-D’Ancona’s name sounds like victory. For patients, however, his name could become synonymous with a major patient safety defeat.

Picture of William Heisel

Freelance journalist Martha Rosenberg recently made an interesting comparison between embattled drug giant Wyeth and former insurance giant AIG. The latter famously handed out massive bonuses and planned lavish company retreats at a time when the company was receiving billions in federal bailout funds.

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We have a guest post today from Felice Freyer, veteran medical writer for the Providence Journal, member of the Association of Health Care Journalists Board of Directors and chair of AHCJ's Right to Know Committee.

Picture of William Heisel

Evan George at the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a newspaper focused on the legal community, wrote a great investigative series about disability insurance last month. He spoke to Antidote last week about how he got started on the project. The second part of the interview is below. It has been edited for space and clarity.

Q: Did you start small or did you immediately dive into looking up all 500+ cases?

Picture of Rong  Xiaoqing

Not exactly about health issues but it is about the racial disparity in another field. It was shelved for about two months by the editor before it got published. So some information seems a bit outdated. But the basic idea is still there.

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“Racism in medicine is a national emergency.” That’s how journalist Nicholas St. Fleur characterized the crisis facing American health care this spring, as his team at STAT embarked on “Color Code,” an eight-episode series exploring medical mistrust in communities of color across the country. In this webinar, we’ll take inspiration from their work to discuss strategies and examples for telling stories about inequities, disparities and racism in health care systems. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team. 

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