The Implant Files won the “health and wellness” prize at the ninth annual RedInk Awards for Excellence in Journalism in Mumbai last week, the latest honor for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists-led investigation into untested and unsafe medical devices.
Among other revelations, ICIJ partner the Indian Express found that dozens of medical devices recalled in the United States for safety reasons were still on shelves in Indian hospitals and doctors offices, and were being implanted in patients. ICIJ partners Ritu Sarin, Kaunain Sheriff and Jay Mazoomdaar at the Indian Express accepted the award.
In the U.S., the Implant Files team has won, or shared, top honors in a dozen major contests. These include the Robert D.G. Lewis Investigative Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Excellence in Health Care Journalism from the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Edward R. Murrow award from The Radio Television Digital News Association.
In March, the ICIJ team won the top prize in the business and finance category from the Scripps Howard Foundation, and also won the Impact Award, given to the top overall category winner.
Honors elsewhere in the world include the Best Online Reporting award, presented by the Citizens’ Coalition for Democratic Media to Newstapa, ICIJ’s Korean partners; and the Belfius Press Award in Belgium, the premier Belgian media award, given to De Tijd and Le Soir.
In the Netherlands, ICIJ partners Jet Schouten, at AVROTROS Radar and Joop Bouma at Trouw, jointly received the prestigious Villamedia Journalist of the Year award for 2018. Schouten was instrumental in launching the Implant Files and played a key role in the collaboration.
The Implant Files found yawning gaps in medical device regulation around the world, including inconsistent standards for testing devices before they go on the market — and dangerous delays in removing them once problems are detected.
The reporting was anchored by the first-ever review of millions of injury and malfunction reports filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which generated two whopping numbers: more than 1.7 million suspected injuries and nearly 83,000 deaths linked to medical devices over the last decade.
In Canada, health authorities created a plan with specific steps and a timeline for changes in the health system that includes mandatory reporting of hospital events and facility inspections of medical devices. Other governments have started to create registries that will help regulate the safety of medical devices.
Last week, in a major advance for medical device transparency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released more than 6 million previously hidden medical device “incident” reports, filed in secret from 1999 through 2019 by device makers.