Best Investigative Reporting honors earned for story about problems with Vitamin D testing

Top honors in a prestigious national journalism competition were recently awarded to our sister publication, The Dark Report. Editor-In-Chief Robert L. Michel traveled to Washington, DC, to accept the first place award for “Best Investigative Reporting.”

The occasion was the 33rd annual conference of the Specialized Information Publishers Association (SIPA). Handing Editor Robert Michel his first place award was Nora O’Donnell, News Anchor and Political Reporter for NBC News and MSNBC.

Editor-In-Chief Robert Michel of The Dark Report (L) receives “Best Investigative Reporting” Award from Nora O’Donnell, NBC/MSNBC News Anchor at SIPA Conference in Washington, DC.

Editor-In-Chief Robert Michel of The Dark Report (L) receives “Best Investigative Reporting” Award from Nora O’Donnell, NBC/MSNBC News Anchor at SIPA Conference in Washington, DC.

The Dark Report and Editor Robert Michel were recognized for investigative reporting and news analysis concerning the unprecedented problems with Vitamin 25(OH) D testing experienced by Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE:DGX). The Dark Report was first to recognize and alert the laboratory testing industry that the nation’s largest laboratory company had acknowledged that, for an 18-month period in 2007 and 2008, deficiencies in its home brew, tandem mass spectrometry Vitamin 25(OH) D testing program had caused it to report inaccurate results to what is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of patients. In its corrective actions last fall and this winter, Quest Diagnostics was notifying physicians and offering to retest those patients it determined might have received “questionable” Vitamin 25(OH) D results. (See The Dark Report, December 22, 2008 , January 12, 2009, and February 2, 2009. )

The Dark Report’s investigative disclosures were picked up by the New York Times, which confirmed the basic facts of the story and published the results of its own investigation. Other media sources, ranging from US Today and Associated Press to CNN and ABC’s Good Morning America, picked up the story and reported on the situation.

This is the second time in recent years that The Dark Report and Editor, Robert Michel have been honored with a national award for “Best Investigative Reporting. It was in 2005 when SIPA (known then as the Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association) recognized The Dark Report with a “Best Investigative Reporting” award for its extensive investigation into anatomic pathology laboratory condominiums (pod labs) during 2004.

At a time when many local pathology groups were losing long-time urology group clients to this business model, The Dark Report published a detailed investigation into how urologists had created this AP condo business model and were selling it to other physicians. Some experts say The Dark Report’s comprehensive analysis of the anatomic pathology laboratory condominium scheme helped educate federal health regulators about this business model and its potential to violate Medicare regulations and statutes. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an unfavorable opinion letter on this business model in December 2004, just five months after The Dark Report published its investigative exposé. (See The Dark Report, July 19, 2004 and August 9, 2004.)

Dark Daily believes that The Dark Report is the only news source for the laboratory testing industry to have won national journalism awards for its reporting, analysis, and commentary. That is a unique distinction. With two national awards for best investigative reporting bestowed in the past five years, it is important confirmation by professional journalists that The Dark Report is setting high standards for accurate reporting of the news and events that matter most to lab executives and pathologists.