This is a Monday catchup effort – catching up on two big journalism projects that are worthy of more attention.
“Every place has its sacred cows – individuals or institutions so prominent and respected that over time they become part of a community’s identity and culture. Questioning them is an affront to civic pride, and investigating them can be a high-stakes gamble.
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital are two such icons of Dallas.
The medical center boasts of “world-class” research and residency programs that have turned out generations of excellent doctors. Parkland, which received a mortally wounded President John F. Kennedy, is the main training ground for the school’s new doctors. As a public hospital and major trauma center, it is also a safety net for the region’s most vulnerable patients.
Over the years, the two institutions have enjoyed largely positive press, some of it by design. Their leaders cultivated national profiles and courted some of the wealthiest and most influential Dallas residents, including media leaders, as advisers and donors. But after receiving a few insider tips and learning of the allegations in a whistleblower lawsuit, the newspaper decided it was time to investigate.
What we found was a system that for decades had deceived virtually all of its patients, put many at risk and, by the hospital’s own estimate, seriously and often needlessly harmed on average two people a day. Internal records from the two institutions, sworn testimony by current and former employees and federal inquiries also documented instances of a cowboy mentality among loosely supervised residents, a class-based culture of care and possible Medicare billing fraud.”
The Las Vegas Sun launched a two-year investigation of local hospital care, starting with a record of every Nevada hospital inpatient visit going back a decade — 2.9 million in all.
The prologue to their “Do No Harm” project reads:
“There’s a running joke about hospitals here: “Where do you go for great health care in Las Vegas?”
The implication is everyone knows hospital care in Southern Nevada is substandard.
The reality, however is that only a small circle of hospital officials, insurance executives, regulators and politicians have had access to meaningful information about the quality of hospitals in Las Vegas. Until now.”
Yes, deep health care investigative journalism still has a pulse.