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'Sick' Podcast Looks At Medical Malpractice

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Side Effects Public Media
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Season 1 of the Sick Podcast explores the case of an Indianapolis fertility doctor who betrayed his clients.

Sick is a new investigative podcast about what goes wrong in the places meant to keep us healthy.

It’s created by Side Effects Public Media, a health reporting project that includes WOSU and other public radio stations around the Midwest.

The first, eight-episode season looks at the case of former Indianapolis fertility doctor Donald Cline. He told patients that he used donor sperm from doctors at a nearby hospital in the 1970s. However, years later, the rise of private genetic testing like 23andMe unveiled the truth.

"It came out that Cline hadn't used medical residents as donors. He used his own sperm," says co-host Lauren Bavis.

Bavis says they chose the case because fertility treatments are becoming a more common way to start families.

"Even though what Cline did back then is a little less likely to happen today because of all the regulations that have come into place in fertility medicine, there's still a lot that isn't looked at, or a lot that's self-regulated by the fertility industry," she says. "So we wanted to take a look back to take a look forward."

Side Effects typically covers healthcare around the Midwest in individual stories. Bavis says the podcast format enables a deeper dive into one topic.

They talked with Cline's co-workers and people who were around his medical practice. The podcast will also explore what fertility medicine looked like in the 1970s and 1980s as well as touch on concerns of people who are going into fertility medicine now.

Bavis says they're planning on a second season, but haven't chosen the topic just yet. In the meantime, find Sick at sickpodcast.org.