Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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

Search results for "surgeries" ...

  • Kaiser Health News and USA TODAY Network: Surgery Center deaths

    Millions of Americans are having routine surgeries performed at the nation’s 5,600-plus surgery centers, the small facilities that promise to get you in and out quickly, and at a much lower cost. But some of those facilities lack the staff or training to handle emergencies, and have been taking on increasingly fragile patients. It’s a dangerous situation that has put patients’ lives at risk and even children’s lives at risk, a groundbreaking investigation by Kaiser Health News and USA Today Network discovered. Hundreds of patients, some as young as two, have died after having surgeries as simple as tonsillectomies or colonoscopies. And at least 7,000 patients a year had to be raced by ambulance to a local hospital when something went wrong.
  • Dangerous Device

    NBC Nightly News’ “Dangerous Device” reports are the product of a yearlong investigation into surgically implanted medical devices that our research linked to at least 39 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Our investigation, which prompted a U.S. Senate inquiry, uncovered a forgery submitted to the federal government, and revealed that the device’s maker knew early on that its product -- and the model that replaced it -- had potentially fatal flaws. Still, the company decided not to recall these devices from the market. [P1: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/medical-device-to-prevent-blood-clots-associated-with-27-fatalities-518273603659] [P2: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/did-manufacturer-of-medical-device-linked-to-27-deaths-ignore-safety-concerns--519077443933] [P3: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/re-designed-heart-medical-device-linked-to-at-least-a-dozen-deaths-594261059962]
  • The Surgeons's Mafia

    The report cast light over the underworld of prosthesis surgeries in Brazil. During four months, news reporter Giovani Grizotti disguise as a physician to catch companies that offer bribes to surgeons. The proposition was to practice unnecessary surgeries and to use overvalued prosthesis in patients.
  • Should we “Fix” Intersex Children?

    This story showed how a lack of oversight is allowing doctors to carry out risky cosmetic surgeries on young children with intersex conditions. Around one in 2,000 children are born with sex organs that are not entirely male or female. The story focused on one of these children, ‘M’ who was born with an intersex condition and whose penis was cut off as a toddler to make him look like a girl. He is now ten and identifies as a boy. As well as the risk of assigning a child the wrong gender, these surgeries have a gut-wrenching list of side-effects including painful scarring, reduced sexual sensitivity, torn genital tissue, removal of natural hormones and possible sterilization. This story found that doctors have been aware of these risks since the 1990s when many advocates, adults and some within the medical profession called on the surgeries to be heavily restricted, but that many doctors continue to perform these operations.
  • Military Medicine

    A year-long investigation by The New York Times into the United States’ military hospitals revealed systematically poor care across major safety measures, showing that the trail of patients who died needlessly, babies who were permanently damaged and surgeries that left lifelong disabilities were not just unusual events, but part of a pattern of a medical system with systemic shortcomings. These are not VA hospitals: These are the nation's little-examined 55 military hospitals. This is not about war-related injuries, but routine medical care promised to those in the military and their families. The New York Times, by analyzing statistics, proved for the first time that crucial safety measures, like performing a root cause analysis when a patient unexpectedly dies or suffers from permanent disabilities that result from medical care, were not being done. The result of the work is that, in early fall, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced major changes to the way these hospitals provide care, and called for improved safety.
  • Tapping into Controversial Back Surgeries

    Spinal fusion is one of the most common surgeries in America, but there are concerns that some doctors are performing it unnecessarily. The procedure joins two or more adjacent vertebrae, often with metal rods and screws, and can result in paralysis or life-threatening complications. For this six month investigation, we built a database from previously unreleased government records. It showed for the first time how many spinal fusions each surgeon in the country performed on Medicare patients, under the billing codes used most commonly for "degenerative" conditions that cause back pain. Half a dozen experts on medical billing and spine surgery told us that focusing on these codes would be the most effective way to identify abuse. We exposed that a small group of doctors performed far more of these lucrative but potentially dangerous procedures than their peers. Some of them were also banned or suspended from hospitals or settled lawsuits alleging unnecessary surgeries. Our findings were so alarming to the president of a top neurosurgery society that he called on authorities to look into these doctors. We also put the database online, made it easily searchable by patients, and provided guidance from experts on how to interpret it.
  • Moms: Hospital Killed Our Kids

    The outside of the Kentucky Children's Hospital is all colorful paintings and smiling photos, but inside there's a dark secret. Connor Wilson was the first to die, on August 30, at six months old. His parents, while heartbroken, didn't think anything was amiss until another baby in the same ward, Rayshawn Lewis-Smith, died. Then they found out Waylon Rainey, also on the cardiac surgery floor, coded and was on life support and a fourth baby, Jaxon Russell needed a second surgery at another hospital to fix a heart surgery he'd had a Kentucky Children's. All of these events happened within eight weeks, after which the hospital closed its cardiac surgery program and placed its chief surgeon on leave. When the parents asked the hospital questions, the hospital wouldn't answer them. When a local reporter started asking questions, the hospital sued her. When the state Attorney General asked these same basic questions - how many pediatric heart surgeries they did, their mortality rates - the hospital refused to hand over the data. When the AG ruled they were in violation of state law by not releasing their data, the hospital appealed the ruling. Now the hospital says they plan to re-open their pediatric cardiac surgery program, and these parents are up in arms. How could the hospital possibly open back up with this kind of track record, without even releasing the most basic safety data, which many other hospitals release all the time? And why haven't state or federal regulators rushed in to stop the program from re-opening - they haven't even opened an investigation. Elizabeth Cohen investigates.
  • The Cost of Healing

    “The Cost of Healing” examines how Medicare, in setting prices and coverage standards for healthcare, makes billion-dollar mistakes that affect every patient in the nation. While many patients may prefer to think that doctors and hospitals focus solely on their health, the series illustrates how economic incentives comes to bear and how the Medicare program has been tailored to keep money flowing to doctors, hospitals and drug-makers. Based on computer analyses of millions of government health records, documents obtained from sources and other reporting, it shows: that at some hospices, as many as half of patients are released alive, because patients that aren’t actually dying are more profitable; that doctors are choosing a $2000-per-dose eye drug when a nearly identical equivalent is available for $50-per-dose, at an annual cost to Medicare of $1 billion; that the spike in spinal fusion surgery is driven in part by profit-seeking and that many of the surgeries were performed on patients who didn’t need it; that the prices that Medicare sets for doctor’s fees, and which have become the national standard, are based on the recommendations of a secretive AMA committee that used flawed assumptions for how long a procedure takes.
  • Medical Secrets

    Dr. Richard Austin is a Toronto-area gynecologist who has gained a reputation for botching surgeries. This story happened when 14 women "claimed they suffered emotional and physical harm after going under his surgical knife." After the initial story was published, more women came forward to tell about how they had also suffered injuries, often to their bowels, during procedures such as hysterectomies.
  • Patel's disturbing record at Kaiser stayed hidden for years

    In April 2005, Dr. Jayant Patel, who formerly had been a surgical star in Portland when he handled thousands of cancer and abdominal surgeries at Kaiser Permanente NW, surfaced as the subject of Australian media accounts, where patients called him "Dr. Death" after a string of botched surgeries. This was the trigger for a six-month investigation by the Oregonian, revealing that Kaiser had known about Patel's problems, waited years to address them, paid out millions of dollars in damages to his patients and failed to report malpractice allegations against him as the law required.