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 "health care" ...

  • Poor Health An occasional series about the barriers to health and health care for low-income urban Americans

    Poor Health was the result of a collaboration between the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and faculty and students from Marquette University. Both papers published the series, which had three major parts. The backbone of the series is a set of interactive maps that shows that health care systems have closed hospitals in poor communities in the major U.S. metropolitan areas while opening new facilities in more affluent areas, often communities that already had hospitals; that the residents of the communities in which hospitals closed were less healthy than their more affluent counterparts, and that communities in which hospitals closed were much more likely to be federally designated "physician shortage areas." than communities that retained or gained hospitals. In addition, reporting in several cities shows the health care challenges among the urban poor, the results of those difficulties and the economics that drive the unequal distribution of health care. The final part of the series focuses on solutions. A major story on the effort in Oregon to improve health care for Medicaid recipients while lowering costs is the centerpiece; other reporting on innovative approaches to health care in poor areas includes programs in Philadelphia, Cleveland and Indianapolis.
  • Veterans Disability Claims

    Yvonne Wenger’s story for The Baltimore Sun examined the disability claims backlog at the Baltimore office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Through her reporting and use of an online database, she discovered that the Baltimore office, which services all of Maryland, had the worst backlog in the country and made the most mistakes. Servicemen and women in Maryland were waiting an average of 12 months for an initial decision about benefits; in some cases, it could take years more to receive the payments. Yvonne reached out to dozens of veterans but found that all were fearful to speak to a reporter because they thought doing so would affect their claims. She eventually did find a combat veteran, Robert Fearing, who was willing to be interviewed. He was suffering from paranoia and anxiety and had been waiting 2 ½ years for the Baltimore office to make a decision about his claim. After publication of the article, reaction from Maryland’s congressional delegation was swift. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin both took action to seek changes locally and nationally to address the backlog. And just days after the article was published, Fearing had his claim reviewed and approved.
  • VA Legionnaires' Outbreak

    An announcement by the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in late 2012 about a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed five people and sickened 16 others there was reported by local, state and some national media largely from the officially presented account. But editors and reporters at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review felt the announcement raised more questions than it answered. A team of reporters assembled to dig deeper into what went wrong. An investigation led to a series of stories during 2013 that exposed a broken health care system rife with testing errors and what appeared to be an almost deliberate failure to inform the public. In fact, the Trib revealed top VA officials reaped thousands of dollars in performance bonuses that were awarded just before the public announcement. The Trib documented that the VA’s problems extend beyond the Pittsburgh system. Nationwide, the newspaper found the deaths of at least 21 veterans in the past year appear to be linked to failures in VA medical care.
  • Maryland's Failed Health Exchange

    Baltimore Sun reporters Andrea K. Walker and Meredith Cohn investigated what contributed to Maryland's troubled roll-out of its state-run health insurance marketplace. Emails between state officials and contractors as well as court documents revealed infighting and ineffectual oversight hampered efforts to launch and repair the state health care exchange.
  • Costly Generics

    Generic drugs now make up around 80 percent of prescriptions filled, and many assume generics are always cheap. But a PBS NewsHour Weekend investigation found that’s not always the case. Retail prices for generic drugs can vary wildly from pharmacy to pharmacy – a fact few consumers know anything about. The story was very personal for PBS NewsHour Weekend correspondent Megan Thompson, whose mother Carol discovered that the cost of a month’s supply of her generic breast cancer drug Letrozole ranged from around $10 to more than $400 at pharmacies around the Twin Cities. Thompson also spoke to Lisa Gill at Consumer Reports who led a national survey of retail prices for five new generics. Gill said their results were unprecedented - the biggest price variations they’d ever seen in a drug pricing study. The consequences of these huge price variations can be dire. The uninsured, or people with inadequate drug coverage or high deductibles, could overpay by hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Or, they could end up going without medications they need. Thompson interviewed Lisa Duncan of Brooklyn Park, MN, who is bipolar and has a history of suicide attempts. After she became uninsured, she couldn’t afford a big-name chain’s price of more than $100 for one of her prescriptions, so she left the store empty-handed. Duncan says she found the same drug at CostCo for a tenth of the price and was able take the drug again as needed. As the nation grapples with skyrocketing health care costs, “Costly Generics” is an important consumer story that shines a light on the murky prescription drug marketplace, where it’s hard to know how much drugs are supposed to cost, and is very difficult to find or compare prices. And vulnerable populations who need medications the most – the elderly, or chronically ill -- may also be the least likely to have to have the resources to navigate this opaque marketplace. One viewer wrote that after watching the story, she called around and found her prescription for $28 at a local drug store, compared to $72 at CVS.
  • Chronic Crisis

    The investigation explored why mental health care in Milwaukee County is especially ineffective. We found that Milwaukee politicians for decades have ignored calls for reform, clinging to an outdated system that preserves union jobs at the expense of better care.
  • Sexual Assault Test Kits

    KOAA-TV News 5 Guardians determined most area law enforcement agencies were not having sexual assault test kits completed by health care facilities sent to a state agency for processing. A state lawmaker objected to the unprocessed evidence and proposed a new law. A woman who was a sexual assault victim offered the perspective of a victim.
  • 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.
  • The Girl Who Got Tied Down

    The Girl Who Got Tied Down is a documentary In two parts about a girl, “Nora”, whit self-destructive behaviour, who got raped by one of Sweden’s most senior police chiefs while she was placed in residential youth care. The documentary reveals several cases of abuse due to the work of the health service and the police in Sweden. It has created uproar and a great deal of anger. In the wake of The Girl Who Got Tied Down the senior psychiatrist charged with caring for “Nora” has been sacked from the hospital where he worked. The private mental health care company which he owns has lost its contract with the County Council.
  • Incapacitated: Florida's Guardianship Program

    The ABC Action News I-Team took an in-depth look at issues surrounding Florida’s court-ordered guardianship program. Once people are determined to be incapacitated by the court, they are stripped of their rights (including those to vote, to marry, to have a job, to drive, to choose their place of residence, to make gifts, to manage finances and to choose their health care providers). Guardians can bill their wards up to $70 an hour for performing routine tasks like opening mail, banking and paying them visits. There is no limit on the number of wards a guardian can be assigned. We found cases in which guardians were appointed dozens of wards at one time. We also discovered a lack of systemic oversight and a system that allowed abuse. Families of wards reported valuable items like jewelry and antiques often went missing. Records showed wards were often frequently moved from one assisted living home to another without their families being notified. Their homes, personal property and vehicles were often sold for a small percentage of their actual worth, and then resold by the guardians’ friends who purchased these items for huge profits.