In health care, sometimes less is more. Stories that don't explore this option can contribute to higher health care costs and unintended consequences like surgical injuries, pain pill addictions and health care-associated infections.
The Medical Board of California told Orange County Register health reporter Courtney Perkes that it was rare for a doctor to be disciplined, allowed to return to practice and then disciplined again. She wanted to see if that was actually true, and so she asked the board for every record of a doctor who had petitioned for a license reinstatement.
Courtney Perkes could have phoned it in. She was the fourth reporter to have covered the seemingly never-ending saga of Dr. Andrew Rutland, an obstetrician who, most recently, has been accused of botching an abortion that led to a woman’s death. A story that requires a lot of “the Register reported in 2001” sentences can quickly become an exercise in burnishing boilerplate. But Perkes took a different tack. She used the Rutland case to ask an important question: how often do doctors like Rutland lose their licenses, only to get them back?