Resource Center

Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364573-882-3364  or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.



  • Cleveland Clinic cases highlight flaws in safety oversight

    A three-month Modern Healthcare analysis of hundreds of pages of federal inspection reports reveals the 1,268-bed Cleveland Clinic Hospital spent 19 months on “termination track” with Medicare between 2010 and 2013 as a result of more than a dozen inspections and follow-up visits triggered by patient complaints. The Cleveland Clinic is far from alone in facing the only sanction the CMS can apply to hospitals when serious safety problems and violations of informed consent rules are brought to light by patient complaints. An analysis of Medicare inspection data found that between 2011 and 2014 there were at least 230 validated serious incidents— dubbed “immediate jeopardy” complaints—that led the agency to threaten hospitals with losing their ability to serve Medicare patients unless they immediately fixed the problems. Overall, there were at least 9,505 CMS complaints lodged in that time against 1,638 hospitals, which included low-severity “standard level” violations; midlevel “condition level” violations; and the less common but most serious “immediate jeopardy” complaints. Only the most serious and condition-level complaints can lead to threats of being cut off from government funding. Only in very rarest of circumstances has the CMS followed through on the threat. The CMS’ ultimate goal with hospital inspections “is to ensure compliance with Medicare rules, not close down hospitals that are essential to local communities,” a CMS spokeswoman said.

    Tags: Healthcare; health; federal inspections; hospitals; clinics; Cleveland Clinic Hospital; CMS; Medicare; Medicare inspection

    By Joe Carlson; Merrill Goozner

    Modern Healthcare

    2014

  • Dirty Air Duct Cleaners Exposed

    After complaints kept coming into our newsroom about underhanded tactics by an air duct cleaning company, News 4 decided to check out the company. Victims told News 4, the men who came to their homes for an advertised $55 coupon cleaning used scare tactics to get senior citizens to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars extra. So we set up an undercover bait house to catch them in the act.

    Tags: Air duct cleaners; consumer affairs;

    By John O'Sullivan; Mark Hadler

    KMOV (St. Louis, MO)

    2014

  • Hazard Above

    According to a year-long investigation by The Washington Post, hundreds of military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001 and civilian drones are posing a new threat to passenger air traffic in the United States. Drones have revolutionized warfare and are set to revolutionize civil aviation under a 2012 federal law that will allow them to fly freely in American skies. But The Post found that the U.S. military and the Federal Aviation Administration suppressed widespread patterns of safety problems with drones and tried to keep details of accidents and near mid-air collisions a secret. Drawing on more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained under FOIA, The Post uncovered more than 400 major military drone crashes worldwide, including 49 in the United States. Some drone models were particularly crash-prone: almost half of the Air Force’s iconic Predator fleet has been destroyed in accidents. The Post published details of 194 of the most serious accidents in an interactive online database, as well as crash-scene photographs, voice-recording transcripts and a video of a stricken Predator drone filming its own fiery breakup over Iraq. The Post also exposed a rash of dangerous encounters between civilian airplanes and drones flown in contravention of FAA rules intended to safeguard U.S. airspace, a problem that has worsened since the series was first published.

    Tags: Military drones; drones; accidents; civilian drones; Federal Aviation Administration;

    By Craig Whitlock

    Washington Post

    2014

  • Aura of Power

    Through a series of stories, CBC Edmonton's investigative unit revealed the abuse of public resources by former Alberta Premier Alison Redford. The series revealed the premier had secretly ordered herself a luxury penthouse, flew her daughter on government planes dozens of times, and employed a scheme to block passengers from government flights so she could fly alone with a chosen entourage.

    Tags: Premier; corruption; public resources; politician

    By Charles Rusnell; Jennie Russell

    CBC News

    2014

  • Breaking The Silence: Addressing Sexual Assault On Campus

    An investigation into how the University of Kansas pursued one rape case (http://huff.to/W8uLVy), where the assailant confessed, resulted in the harshest sanction being probation, specifically because the university wanted to avoid being "punitive." Meanwhile, the city police decline to investigate underage drinking at a fraternity where victim had become intoxicated, and the district attorney decides to close the case until HuffPost contacts him. The Breaking the Silence series uses a range of perspectives to explore the lenient and lackadaisical approach of colleges across America to sexual assaults committed on their campuses. The first piece included here is an investigation into how the University of Kansas handled one rape case in which the assailant confessed, and whose harshest sanction was probation — specifically because the university wanted to avoid being "punitive," citing a higher-ed trade group’s guidance. The city police declined to investigate underage drinking at the fraternity where the victim had become intoxicated, and the district attorney decided to close the case until HuffPost contacted him. Another, data-driven piece examines whether schools like the University of Kansas are anomalies. We concluded that most colleges opt not to remove sexual assault offenders from campus, with many citing the same higher-ed trade group's guidance to be "educative, not punitive" in their approach to punishing rape and sexual misconduct. Fewer than one-third of cases where a student is found responsible for sexual assault result in expulsion In our third piece, we found that even when a school does investigate and punish a student for sexual assault, it doesn't stop the student from transferring to another campus, sometimes without anyone at the new school knowing about his past misconduct.

    Tags: Sexual assault; campus; fraternity; underage drinking

    By Tyler Kingkade; Katie Nelson

    Huffington Post

    2014

  • Juris Imprudence

    The Center for Public Integrity’s “Juris Imprudence” project penetrated the veil of secrecy surrounding the financial holdings and activities of the nation’s most powerful judges. The Center collected, digitized, analyzed and ultimately made public the financial disclosures of 255 federal appellate judges in an unprecedented, searchable database. Using those documents, the reporting team uncovered more than two dozen examples where jurists violated federal law by allowing their personal financial ties to overlap with their caseloads.

    Tags: Judicial system; judges; financial holdings

    By Chris Young; Kytja Weir; Reity O’Brien; Henry Kerali; John Dunbar

    Center for Public Integrity (Washington, D.C.)

    2014

  • Oil Trains in Oregon

    Without any public knowledge or advance planning, railroad companies began moving hundreds of millions of gallons of highly explosive oil in unsafe tank cars through some of the Pacific Northwest’s most scenic places. The sudden rise caught first responders, public officials, local residents and regulators by surprise. A rolling investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive found extensive flaws in state readiness and an opaque state rail safety system that acted beholden to the railroads it was supposed to be regulating.

    Tags: Oil trains; Oregon; railroad companies; rail safety system; railroads

    By Rob Davis

    The Oregonian

    2014

  • Killed in the Line of Training

    Neal Smith had excelled at his first day in an elite firefighter training exercise. But on Day 2, trapped in a small space and weighed down by 75 pounds of gear, he became disoriented in the fog and collapsed on the second floor of the building he was making his way through. A trainer screamed at him to get up, but he couldn't. His internal temperature was 108 degrees; his brain was swelling. When Mayday was called it was too late. Rushed to a nearby hospital, the experienced firefighter died there later that day. Most people assume that all firefighters are trained by their own fire departments. But departments in small town Texas actually have been sending their personnel to the East Texas Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association, a nonprofit trade group for volunteer firefighters. And unlike a governmental agency, there is no oversight of that group's methods or standards. As a subsequent investigation by the state fire marshal's office and by the National Institute of Safety and Health revealed the training camp was so poorly run that several other firefighters had dropped out (saying they didn't want to risk their lives), passed out or been taken to the hospital. Had safety procedures standard in most fire departments been in place – such as a simple tub of ice – Smith could have been saved at the training camp site.

    Tags: Fire fighter; accident; death; fire fighter training; Texas; fire department;

    By Craig Malisow

    Houston Press

    2014

  • Illinois Public Hospitals Pay $180 Million for Wrongful Death Cases

    Public hospitals in Illinois paid more than $180 million over a decade for patient deaths, a figure that points to numerous medical errors despite efforts to reduce mistakes. While system-wide failures at VA hospitals are widely reported, our investigation points to problems at other public medical centers. http://www.bettergov.org/illinois_public_hospitals_pay_180_million_for_wrongful_death_cases/

    Tags: Public hospitals; hospitals; public medical centers; patient deaths; medical errors; VA hospitals

    By Brett Chase

    Better Government Association

    2014

  • Exposing the Unknown Dangers to Children: CA's Broken Day Care Oversight System

    In an ongoing year-long joint investigation, NBC Bay Area and The Center for Investigative Reporting peeled back the layers of California’s ineffective and antiquated day care oversight system, revealing parents’ little access to simple inspection information, infrequent checkups by state regulators and disorganization at the highest levels of state government. In a groundbreaking team effort, the journalists spent hundreds of hours scanning and organizing thousands of child care inspection documents, creating databases to analyze that information and then posting them online for the first time in California. The reporting brought transparency to an opaque and confusing system and put the problems into the public’s eye, leading to significant action by elected officials and a change in state law.

    Tags: Child care; day care; child care inspection; California

    By Stephen Stock; Julie Putnam; Jennifer LaFleur; Katharine Mieszkowski; Scott Pham; Felipe Escamilla; Jeremy Carroll

    NBC Bay Area

    2014