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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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Nurses have one of the toughest jobs in health care.

Anyone who has delivered a baby in a hospital knows how much work they do, only to see all the credit go to the doctor who comes in for the final few minutes. How many photos have you seen of a nurse holding a brand new baby?

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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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!

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