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Antidote started as a way to share innovative investigative ideas in health reporting, in part by highlighting reporters who have done an exceptional job digging for great stories. Starting this week I am going to list 10 of my favorite stories from the year, in no particular order.

Smart Choices Foods: Dumb as they look? ,” Rebecca Ruiz, Forbes, October 2009

On Thursday, Bay Area News Group (Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, etc.) hosted a live online chat with Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General, and Rich Hamburg, deputy director of Trust for America's Health. Health reporter Sandy Kleffman and I (the science reporter for the chain) moderated it.  

Both men responded to questions posted by participants on how Congressional health reform legislation offers an unprecedented amount of funds for disease prevention, and funds for novel programs to improve health by improving neighborhoods. It's archived at: 

The American Society of Anesthesiologists wants to change the way people think about pain medicine, both to promote the idea that anesthesiologists are not just experts in the surgical suite and also to prevent addictions and deaths.

Robert Steinback is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former Miami Herald columnist who was laid off in 2008. His COBRA health insurance ends in January, and, because he has diabetes, no insurer will offer him an individual policy. Other alternatives, such as a HIPAA policy, are prohibitive

C'mon, Times, it's not like you're some kind of penny-ante operation. You've got at least modest resources, you know like the internet and telephones to call up experts. Right?

I don't know whether it's a lack of resources, laziness, or ignorance that allows pieces like this one into the paper, but it doesn't change the craptastic nature of the piece.

The byline says:

While reporting for a four-part series on the wide gap in life expectancies and disease rates between people in nearby neighborhoods – due to drastically different conditions and social status – I expected to find that health care reform legislation would do little to address this issue. The reform legislation, after all, is primarily about health care insurance. But I was surprised to find that, for the first time, Congressional legislation contains at least $3.4 billion to focus on improving health disparities.

Dr. Scott Takasugi finally ran out of excuses.

The Sacramento plastic surgeon was accused of molesting his patients, some of whom were as young as 12.

His patients said that they came in for breast enhancements or reductions, yet Takasugi told them to take all their clothes off. Then he touched and photographed them. To explain this behavior, Takasugi told the Sacramento Bee:

What I did was misconstrued medical procedures.

Don’t spit out your fruitcake, but are the ingredients in it safe? A couple of recent federal auditor reports suggest that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to step up its efforts to protect the nation’s food supply in two areas: tracing ingredients through the food supply chain and ensuring that food companies register with the federal agency.

Deadlines to apply for workshops at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting are approaching.

It’s safe to say that most health writers pay attention when Tracy Weber and Charlie Ornstein publish something.

They have been called the Woodward and Bernstein of health reporting. The comparison fits because these two have few peers in their ability to dig for documents, cajole sources into talking and embarrass powerful public figures.

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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