Investigative reporter Michael Berens Investigative reporter Michael Berens writes for the Chicago Tribune. His recent series of articles is about the epidemic of life-threatening infections that occur in America's hospitals. He reports that infection rates are soaring and they are exacerbated by hospital cutbacks and carelessness by doctors and nurses. Deaths caused by hospital germs are now the fourth-leading cause of mortality among Americans, and can largely be prevented. Plus the problem is often kept secret by hospitals and it persists because of a lack of government oversight.