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 "public health" ...

  • Hyderabad Debates Health Insurance Model as Public Hospitals Decay

    Andhra Pradesh province in southeast India is ground zero for a series of ambitious public health programs aimed to make affordable healthcare available to the rural poor. However, when these families travel to the city to find medical treatment, they must navigate a treacherous path through counterfeit pills, medical fraud, and hidden costs. An epidemic of farmer suicides bears witness to the heavy toll that unpayable medical bills incurred at private hospitals can take on families living hand to mouth in the Indian countryside. This tragedy has added desperation to the search for solutions. One such solution is the Aarogyasri Health Insurance Program, which uses India's ration card system to provide poor families access to healthcare. But is this program enough? The gleaming new medical equipment of private hospitals in Hyderabad may be open to poor families from the countryside thanks to programs like Aarogyasri, yet below this photogenic surface is a culture of medical fraud and ration card forgery. The changes in India's healthcare system must be more than skin-deep if farmers are to spend their earnings on food for their families rather than medical bills.
  • Children are Dying

    This special report broke the story of a public health crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people: a nationwide shortage of IV nutrients so drastic that hospitals were hoarding, rationing, and bartering them in order to keep patients from dying. Despite the veil of secrecy surrounding the issue, Robbins persuaded hospital staff, patient families, and drug manufacturing personnel to speak for this story. She gained access to Congressional documents that had not been made public, used Internet archival research to track the FDA’s drug shortage updates, and reviewed hundreds if not thousands of pages of FDA records, government briefs and reports, and medical studies to determine how these problems could happen in 21st-century America when they were not happening abroad. The article went viral on social media, was Longreads.com’s number-one article of the week and became the most viewed online article in Washingtonian history. As a result of the piece, a source and a reader together started a petition to Congress that has amassed thousands of signatures. The article also has been circulated among the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. After two-and-a-half years of inaction – one week after Washingtonian published the article and about three months after Robbins began making inquiries to FDA employees – the FDA announced that it finally would begin to import some of the nutrients in shortage.
  • Playing With Fire

    For decades, manufacturers have packed the foam cushions inside sofas, loveseats and upholstered chairs in homes across America with toxic flame retardants. Companies did this even though research shows the chemicals – linked to cancer, developmental problems and impaired fertility – don’t slow fires and are migrating into the bodies of adults and children. That began to change in 2012 when the Chicago Tribune’s investigative series “Playing With Fire” exposed how the chemical and tobacco industries waged a deceptive, decades-long campaign to promote the use of flame retardant furniture and downplay the hazards. As a result of the series, historic reforms are underway, and flame retardants became one of the top public health issues of the year. The series sparked two U.S. Senate hearings and the Environmental Protection Agency began a broad investigation. Most importantly, California announced it would scrap the rule responsible for flame retardants’ presence in homes throughout the nation.
  • Hansen Files-Supplements

    Dateline NBC exposed how unsafe practices in the booming dietary supplements industry – and lax government regulation – are allowing poisonous products to reach store shelves. Digging deep into government records, product recalls, criminal counterfeiting cases, plus state and federal civil court files, Dateline documented actual examples of dangerous products and falsified test results. In one case, workers at U.S. supplement maker used five-gallon buckets and women’s pantyhose in an attempt to filter suspicious black flecks out of a liquid vitamin supplement bound for retail stores – including GNC. Dateline’s investigation didn’t stop at reviewing records. In a hidden camera sting, Dateline exposed so-called “dry-labbing” – the practice of certifying products without really testing them. Dateline set up its own supplement company, created sample products, deliberately spiked them with poisons, and then hired labs to test them. One lab specializing in supplements missed every poison – and told correspondent Chris Hansen the dangerous products were safe to sell. In spite of these documented threats to public health, federal officials acknowledged that labs that test dietary supplements are neither licensed nor inspected.
  • Bad Neighbor Banks: How Big Lenders Spread Blight

    Across South Florida, on block after block, homes abandoned in the foreclosure crisis have become eyesores, depressing property values, and posing health and safety hazards for nearby families. The Sun Sentinel investigated and found who was responsible for letting these homes rot: some of the world’s largest banks.
  • C-HIT: Toxic Laundry Emissions

    Industrial laundries in New England have recently come under intense scrutiny by the EPA, ever since the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) found that volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) were being released at a facility in Waterbury, CT. According to Steve Rapp, Chief of the Air Technical Unit, EPA Region 1, the problem is widespread and significant. “The industrial laundries are grossly under-reporting their VOCs,” said Rapp. “It’s a total sleeper.” The problem stems from the process of laundering shop towels, which are often contaminated with toxic solvents. When improperly cleaned, the solvents are vaporized and emitted to the surrounding air. This article investigated this little-known source of air pollution, shedding light on the industry’s practices and its impact on air quality and public health.
  • No Small Thing

    The Poughkeepsie Journal series “No Small Thing” goes where no other newspaper or media outlet has – it challenges the mainstream medical dogma on Lyme disease. In rigorously documented articles, Projects Writer Mary Beth Pfeiffer concludes that the major actors in this public health scandal -- chiefly the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Infectious Disease Society of America – have minimized and mismanaged a burgeoning epidemic of tick-borne disease at great harm to thousands of infected people. These two powerful institutions have held – in policy and pronouncement -- that Lyme disease is easy to diagnose and easy to cure. It is neither.
  • A Lethal Dose- The War On Synthetic Drugs

    The Star Tribune broke new ground with its investigation of the shadowy world of synthetic drugs, which quickly emerged as a substantial public health threat in 2011. Though these substances have been touted as "safe and legal," the drugs have provoked unusually violent behavior and deadly consequences.
  • Shattered Trust

    The public assumes sterile alcohol wipes are sterile or at least clean enough not to be dangerous. But an ongoing investigation in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that wipes -- sterile and nonsterile -- can be dangerously contaminated, and federal regulators are not doing much to protect the public. When there are recalls, the public is not finding out because of lax communication and weak tools for regulators.
  • Struggling to Understand

    The story takes an investigative look at the personal struggles of the recent suicide victims in a small seaside New Jersey town and examined how the school and community at large responded to what is for New Jersey an unprecedented public health crisis. While each case involved a unique set of circumstances, the reporters found that a history of mentalillness, alcohol and drug abuse -- and a community all to willing to turn a blind eye to teen substance abuse -- played a role in the majority of the deaths.