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News stories cited in Loeb national reporting contest

The Detroit News

A ground-breaking series of stories last year by The Detroit News on the longtime problems with dirty surgical instruments at the Detroit Medical Center has been named a finalist in the local reporting category of the annual Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.

The series, written by Karen Bouffard and Joel Kurth, was among four finalists in the category cited in the list released Thursday.

Also cited in the category were entries by Eric Eyre of the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail for “Painkiller Profiteers,” Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan of the Chicago Tribune for “Suffering in Secret,” and Jessica Calefati of the The Mercury News of San Jose, California, for “Is an Online School Cashing in on Failure?”

The winners will be announced June 27 in New York City at the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards banquet and celebration.

The News entry, titled “Dirty Instruments at the Detroit Medical Center,” was based on more than 200 emails and internal reports that revealed the issues had complicated operations including brain surgeries, heart repairs and spinal fusions, kept patients under anesthesia unnecessarily and led to cancellations of dozens of operations. The DMC has maintained that no patients were injured by instruments marred by visible blood, bone or other contaminants.

The stories led to investigations by state and federal agencies that at one time threatened possible federal funding for the system. Those investigations were eventually closed and just this week, Detroit Medical Center officials testified before a committee of the Michigan Legislature on the steps that had been taken to address the problems.

The prestigious Gerald Loeb Awards are offered in 12 competition categories and represent the nation's highest honors in business journalism. The 2017 finalists were chosen from more than 480 entries submitted by local, regional and national outlets.

The finalists were announced by Judy D. Olian, chairman of the G. and R. Loeb Foundation Inc. and dean of UCLA Anderson School of Management, which has been the steward of the foundation and awards program since 1973.

The complete list of finalists can be found at