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A quick heads up on some health data now available from the U.S. Department Veterans Affairs, pulled from the innards of a just released (and lengthy)  "open government" report. This should be of interest to journalists who have a V.A. medical facility in their community. (Here's a list of V.A. medical facilities in the United States.)

From the report:

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Here's a recap of the latest developments on the health reform front, along with some helpful resources and story ideas for your community.

March 21, 2010, 10 p.m. PST

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When I was a kid, my parents gave me an Isaac Asimov book.  I don't remember which one, but it was non-fiction, and his way of engaging the reader directly immediately drew me in.  Several years later I found the works of Stephen Jay Gould.  I dug up every book of his I could find and ended up getting the hardcover of each new collection as it was published.

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Felice Freyer, veteran medical writer at the Providence Journal and Association of Health Care Journalists board member, is surveying reporters about how state and local agencies are releasing, or refusing to release, basic demographic information (not names) about people who have died from H1N1/swine flu.

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Dr. Patrick Dean has pulled off a magic trick to make Houdini proud.

The founder and president of GI Pathology, a national testing laboratory based in Memphis, Dean has practiced medicine without a license in at least two states. Practicing without a license is often a career killer for a physician. Not so with Dean.

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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.

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This piece discusses Donald McRae's book about the race to perform the first human heart transplant. McRae blends sciene, character description and culture in this engaging book.

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We continue our 5-part series on the high cost of health care in America.

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Fellows Sharon Salyer and Alejandro Dominguez's exhaustively-reported series on the mental health challenges facing Hispanics in the Pacific Northwest has won journalism prizes from the Association of Health Care Journalists, National Institute of Health Care Management, Mental Health America and the Society of Professional Journalists of the

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Walt Bogdanich, three-time Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter, has written a phenomenal story about cancer care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Philadelphia and tapped into a rich source of material for medical writers: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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Announcements

U.S. children and teens have struggled with increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior for much of the past decade. Join us as we explore the systemic causes and policy failures that have accelerated the crisis and its inequitable impact, as well as promising community-driven approaches and evidence-based practices. The webinar will provide fresh ideas for reporting on the mental health of youth and investigating the systems and services. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors and a social media consultant to join its team. Learn more about the positions and apply.

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