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Joe Carlson

Reporter | Medical technology
Phone: 612-673-4779
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Joe Carlson writes about medical technology in Minnesota for the Star Tribune.


Carlson has covered health care beats full time since 2008, including medical technology, not-for-profit providers and health care legal affairs. His stories tend to blend health care business affairs and patient-focused information.
Recent content from Joe Carlson
Health care workers monitored a COVID-19 patient in an ICU at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul on May 7, 2020.

Virus caregivers have more risk at home, in community, study finds

Bedside caregivers are far less likely to catch COVID-19 after risky exposures to patients, compared with interactions at home or in the community, new data show.
Sanford Health headquarters in Sioux Falls.

Rural Minnesota provider Sanford Health merging with system based in Salt Lake City

Health system would join with Intermountain, a similar hospital network.
Leah Chapman, center, a registered nurse, conferred with a fellow health care worker after they rotated a COVID-19 patient in the third-floor ICU at B

COVID makes heart attacks more deadly, study finds

"Mortality for heart attack patients ... should be in single digits. We're seeing mortality here that is 32%," said Dr. Santiago Garcia, of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.
Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha

Medtronic tells investors it expects faster sales growth ahead

The company now expects to return to normal revenue and profit growth by January, three months earlier than earlier projections.
Healthcare workers don PPE at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul.

Health workers losing pay over testing delays, quarantine rules

A bill slated to be introduced in the Legislature on Monday would require hospitals and nursing homes to give paid time off to health care workers who need to go on leave for COVID testing and quarantine.
Omar Ishrak, executive chairman and former CEO of Medtronic.

Former Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak stepping down from company's board

Omar Ishrak, currently executive chairman, will separate from device maker in December.
The Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building in Rochester.

Former Mayo Clinic employee improperly accessed 1,600-plus patient health records

Social Security numbers, payment card information and bank account numbers weren't accessed.
Infuse Bone Graft by Medtronic.

Medtronic product removed from market in Australia, which is now investigating its use

Medtronic denies any wrongdoing in its marketing or sales of Infuse.
A kindergartner at Harvest Best Academy, a charter school in Minneapolis, ate an apple from her protective desk during lunchtime earlier in September.

Minnesota schools grapple with shifts in COVID-19 cases

Despite state guidelines to help school districts decide whether or when to switch to hybrid or full-time remote learning models, the recommendations are nonbinding, leaving it to district administrators to make the final call.
A Goldy Gopher mascot lawn sign greeted students moving in on the University of Minnesota campus Sept. 15 in Minneapolis.

U testing dorm sewage for COVID-19 at Twin Cities, Duluth campuses

The University of Arizona and Utah State University recently quarantined and tested hundreds of students after dorm wastewater samples led to the discovery of undetected COVID-19 cases.
Hundreds of thousands of patients and donors to Children’s Minnesota and Allina Health hospitals are getting letters saying some of their personal d

State's second-largest health care data breach hits Children's, Allina

The hack was part of a ransomware attack on a cloud computing company called Blackbaud, which manages databases for a number of nonprofits.
Travis Smith received his first COVID-19 test administered by Hien Bui Hien Bui during a free testing event at New Salem Baptist Church in Minneapolis

COVID widens racial gap in Minnesota's health care system

As hospitals and clinics rebuild from the pandemic's financial hit, some doctors and health care officials say there's never been a better time to reach out to historically underserved communities and offer them the same levels of care as whites.
Rachel Miller, an EMS with M Health Fariview, conducted COVID-19 tests during a free testing event at New Salem Baptist Church in Minneapolis on Aug.

N95 masks rationed in state, six months into pandemic

"They are still rationing them, just like they were back in March," said one nurse at a metro hospital, who is leaving her "dream job" until the pandemic recedes because she doesn't feel safe.
University of Minnesota transplant surgeon Dr. John Najarian, shown in 1993.

Pioneering transplant surgeon Dr. John Najarian dies at 92

He served for decades as head of surgery at the University of Minnesota, in a career marked by achievement and controversy.
The entrance to the Gonda building at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Mayo puts Rochester skyscraper expansion on hold 'indefinitely'

Gonda Building would have been Rochester's tallest tower.
Sarah DeBord

Sarah DeBord, cancer patient and activist, dies at 43

Sarah DeBord didn’t mind talking about poop, cancer or dying, and she was unconcerned about whether the language on her blog would be offensive to…
North Memorial health care workers waited for their next drive-up patient at a COVID-19 testing center behind the North Memorial Health Specialty Cent

Two Twin Cities hospitals hit with penalties over COVID-19

North Memorial and United Hospital were each hit with $2,100 citations after workers complained to the state about an array of allegedly unsafe practices related to breathing devices and other personal protective equipment.
The Minnesota Health Department has been able to secure just three batches of more than 100,000 medical-grade infection-preventing N95 masks since Mar

With second virus wave coming, state waits for millions of N95 masks

Masks ordered, but getting them is another story.
Medtronic operational headquarters in Fridley. (Star Tribune file photo)

Medtronic hopes to expand share of diabetes management market with new acquisition

Companion Medical will help the company expand its diabetes management offerings.
Cliff Willmeng, seen at a protest over hospital worker safety on May 4, is suing United Hospital over his May 8 firing.

United Hospital faces lawsuit over safety after firing ER nurse

Cliff Willmeng joins a burgeoning group of hospital workers nationally filing lawsuits in response to what they see as pressure from hospitals to unreasonably lower safety standards for workers on the front lines of pandemic care.
Bill O’Brien fist-bumped Tina Belschner, who was caring for his wife, Marilyn, through the Hospital@Home program. Marilyn broke her pelvis in June.

How North Memorial is helping non-COVID patients do more at home

Hospital-at-home programs are providing telehealth for some emergency patients
Larrydean Goodridge

COVID death of North Memorial worker prompts OSHA probe

The president of Larrydean Goodridge's union said that after her death, the hospital reversed its policy of not providing non-nursing staff with N95 respirators. Hospital officials say they were following CDC guidelines.
In San Diego, an employee takes a blood test to determine if he carries coronavirus antibodies.

'Return to work' COVID antibody testing comes with warning

Health officials say the evidence backing test accuracy and protectiveness from antibodies is not yet strong enough. Even the lab companies and hospitals admit they can't offer "immunity certificates" to people who have the antibodies today.
Cities around Minnesota are passing local requirements to wear masks while indoors to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Minnesota cities set their own mask rules to fight COVID-19

Elected officials say requiring cloth masks while in public is an easy and safe to way prevent spread of the coronavirus.
Brent Walters, MD, critical care and emergency medicine physician, in a patient room during a Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital COVID-19 Emergency Room

Uptick in ICU numbers, confirmed COVID-19 cases continues in Minnesota

Seven of the eight people whose deaths were reported Friday lived in long-term care facilities.
A social distancing sign at Lake Harriet's South Beach in Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon ahead of the July 4th weekend.

Minnesotans, nation prepare to celebrate July 4th with COVID-19 cases on the rise

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm urged Minnesotans to celebrate the holiday primarily with the people in their own households and to consider virtual visits with larger groups.
A medic with the Minnesota Air National Guard 133rd Medical Group administered a free COVID-19 test. [Credit: Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune]

500 new cases, 13 deaths in COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota

It's only the third report in a month's time to reach the 500s.
Duluth Human Rights Officer Carl Crawford greeted Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz with an elbow bump last month.

Walz is urged to mandate masks in Minnesota in COVID-19 fight

State health officials say evidence is mounting that masks make a difference in slowing COVID-19 spread.
A medic with the Minnesota Air National Guard 133rd Medical Group administered a free COVID-19 test to a passenger at a drive-up testing site recently

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to decline in Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz has said the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed by laboratory testing in Minnesota plateaued in June.
Health care workers donned PPE at Bethesda Hospital in May in St. Paul.

Minnesota deaths up 6, to 1,441, in COVID-19 pandemic

While cases of COVID-19 are growing rapidly in some states, Minnesota has seen fluctuating trends in confirmed case counts of late.
A vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States.

COVID-19 drug price deemed 'reasonable'

Remdesivir cuts hospital stays; researchers still don't know if it lowers mortality rates.
A nurse adjusted her N95 mask at a free testing site in Houston. Tight-fitting N95 masks are in such demand that hospitals are doing everything they c

Still in short supply in Minnesota, N95 masks used over and over

3M Co. said Friday that despite doubling its production of N95 respirators this year, global demand continues to far exceed the supply for the entire industry.
Young people enjoyed the beach at Lake Nokomis on Wednesday, a hot summer day.

COVID-19 risks loom as young adults re-enter public life in Minnesota

New data out seems to show that young people have a sense of invincibility. But as one official said, they also play a part in safeguarding the community.
Screeners wait inside the entrance to the Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital emergency room, where they check those arriving for COVID symptoms before d

Scared of COVID-19, millions are avoiding hospital care -- and risk getting even sicker

Visits to emergency departments dropped off dramatically in April across the U.S.
The Minnesota Department of Health says diagnostic testing has been used to confirm 30,471 cases of COVID-19 in residents since early March.

Minn. firm gets emergency OK to sell Chinese-made COVID-19 test

Premier Biotech, a Minneapolis drug-testing firm that has pivoted to distributing a Chinese-made test for detecting COVID-19 antibodies, plans to ramp up sales in coming weeks.
Patients lined up to get tested for Covid-19 at the People's Center Clinics & Services in Minneapolis.

Minnesota health officials report 311 new COVID-19 cases, 15 more deaths

Minnesota's trend of declining COVID-19 case counts is happening as the overall number of test results rises.
Screeners waited at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital emergency room, where they checked patients for COVID symptoms, in St. Louis Park on June 4.

With positive 2019 in rearview, questions loom for UnitedHealth Group in 2020

Profits at Minnesota’s largest company, UnitedHealth Group in Minnetonka, grew twice as fast as sales last year as the company added hundreds of thousands of…
The number of COVID-19 cases is leveling off in Minnesota even as testing increases. File photo of a test being administered in Cloquet, Minn., last m

Tests climb, but spread of virus slows across Minnesota

The growth rate of new cases has been slowing for two weeks since hitting a high-water mark of about 700 new cases on May 24.
Minnesota's death toll from COVID-19 rose by 16 people on Sunday and the illness spread to 388 more people. File photo of shoppers at Rosedale Center

Minnesota sees continued decline in hospital, ICU cases of COVID-19

On Sunday, there were 199 people in hospital intensive-care units being treated for COVID-19, the lowest total since May 13.
Mark Revord, in the hospital where he was treated for COVID-19 with an experimental drug designed to aid breathing difficulties.

Drug for COVID breathing problems, tested in Minnesota, shows promise

Test in 26 people in Minnesota and Detroit suggests Auxora can reduce need for ventilators, shorten hospital stays.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, hospitals in many states, including Minnesota, are admitting fewer heart attack patients than before.

Coronavirus pandemic is stopping some heart patients from seeking care

People experiencing signs of possible heart attack like chest pain and shortness of breath should contact their doctor, call 911 or go to the emergency room — even in the middle of the pandemic.
Elizabeth Santoro, a medic with the Minnesota Air National Guard 133rd Medical Group, administered a free COVID-19 test to a passenger at the drive-up

Minnesota health officials report 14 more coronavirus deaths, 664 newly-confirmed cases

Close contact at demonstrations in Minnesota and elsewhere sparks concern among officials of increased virus spread — but it's too early to tell.
The United Methodist Church for Minnesota and the Dakotas was among the larger faith communities that did not plan to immediately return to in-person

Many churches in Minnesota remain wary of reopening

"We know that this virus disproportionately impacts those who are older and people with underlying health conditions, and many of our congregants fall into those categories," one Twin Cities pastor said.
Elizabeth Santoro, a medic with the Minnesota Air National Guard 133rd Medical Group, tossed her gloves after administering a COVID-19 test Saturday a

Minn. reports 17 more deaths from virus, 730 new cases

About two thirds of people with confirmed cases in the state have recovered.
A North Memorial medical worker gave a thumbs up to a woman who was tested for COVID-19 at the hospital's drive-up testing site in Robbinsdale on May

Rush to do COVID testing leads to waste, harm, U center's report says

In the rush to deploy as many COVID-19 tests as possible, important nuances are being lost about which kinds of tests are not worth doing, causing waste and potential harm during a pandemic, according to a new report from a University of Minnesota policy center.
Scott Bodin administered a drive-through COVID-19 test at the Min No Aya Win clinic on the Fond du Lac Reservation on May 6.

Fond du Lac Band shelves instant COVID-19 test amid accuracy concerns

The FDA says the Abbott ID NOW test can return false negatives, but Abbott says it is accurate in its studies.
Remdesivir is the only therapeutic agent shown to cut down the recovery from COVID-19. For now, manufacturer Gilead Sciences, is donating supplies.

State grapples with promise of COVID-19 drug in limited supply

Eventually, California's Gilead Sciences will start charging Americans for remdesivir, the drug that recently became the only therapeutic agent shown to cut down the recovery from COVID-19.
Syndie Pascal, a registered nurse, dons personal protective equipment before checking a COVID-19 patient at Bethesda Hospital in early May. [DAVID JOL

Minnesota logs 699 new COVID cases day before state relaxes stay-home rules

On Monday, new rules go into effect allowing more businesses to reopen.
Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota

Health experts: Reopening businesses in Minnesota will spread COVID-19, but how much?

Increased transmission is inevitable when economies reopen, but the big question is whether the increase will be manageable.
Bethesda Hospital healthcare workers don PPE before rotating a COVID-19 patient on the fifth floor ICU at the hospital Thursday, May 7, 2020, in St. P

Minnesota adds 695 COVID-19 cases, 23 deaths

The state has documented 12,494 cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, including confirmed cases in 1,436 health care workers. Meanwhile, 8,223 people in the state have been released from quarantine.
A Florida Department of Health worker holds a box with test swabs from citizens at the mobile COVID-19 antibody testing lab, operated by StatLab Mobil

Minnesota firm stands by antibody tests

A Minneapolis company, Premier Biotech, is one of four firms under investigation by a U.S. House subcommittee over concerns their tests are not as accurate as what's claimed on their labels.
Health care workers got a COVID-19 patient into a comfortable position after turning into the third-floor ICU at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul.

481 new cases, 20 more deaths in Minnesota

Rates of new infections and of those released from quarantine are rising.
Allina Health System provided photo. ORG XMIT: MIN2002041737015050

Minneapolis-based Allina Health extends workforce reductions in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Furloughs, layoffs, benefit cuts among steps taken as hospital system's business struggles.
Medical assistant Courtney Banks walked back towards St. Luke's Miller Creek Medical Clinic in Duluth on April 27 after administering a pair of COVID-

Wider testing drives up virus count, but most are recovering

The weekend saw Minnesota continue its recent trend of adding several hundred new confirmed cases and a couple dozen deaths from the viral illness each day. The state surpassed 6,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the death count reached 419.
Patients including Mae Wall lined up to get tested for Covid-19 at the People's Center Clinics & Services in Minneapolis last week. She also got check

Minnesota reports 435 new virus cases, 24 deaths

The numbers released Sunday by state officials also include a sharp rise in the number of people who have recovered and no longer need to be isolated.
Vice President Mike Pence listened on a tour of the General Motors/Ventec ventilator production facility to Chris Kiple of Ventec along with GM CEO an

As Pence's mask reversal shows, COVID-19 testing is still not definitive

No single test for COVID-19 can provide 100% assurance that you haven't acquired the virus in the last few days.
Julie Janke, a medical technologist at Principle Health Systems and SynerGene Laboratory, helps sort samples for different tests Tuesday, April 28, 20

Federal lab won't publish COVID-19 antibody test accuracy results

As FDA mulls issue, critics say there's no reason for any delay in release of antibody test accuracy data.
Offered a chance to reopen Monday, Riedell opted to continue to retrofit social-distancing strategies in its Red Wing plant and resume skate manufactu

20,000 Minnesota businesses could open today, but did they?

Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday that he would allow earlier reopening of around 20,000 Minnesota businesses, mostly in small manufacturing and warehousing, putting 80,000 to 100,000 Minnesotans back to work.
Governor Tim Walz and leaders from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and other Minnesota health system leaders announced advances for COVID-19

'This won't be the last hard day,' Walz says with 28 new deaths

Sunday's COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota included a 44-year-old who became the youngest person yet to die with COVID-19 in Minnesota.
A medical worker processed patients as they arrived at a drive-up COVID-19 testing facility this month outside the Sanford Worthington Clinic.

28 new COVID deaths as state's curve climbs

Minnesota recorded 28 new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, marking the first time that the state has averaged more than one fatality per hour linked to the illness.
Some COVID-19 patients are far lower on oxygen than doctors would expect. That’s where pulse oximetry, measured by devices like this one from Plymou

Pulse oximeters are a COVID-19 must have: 'We can't keep up,' Plymouth manufacturer says

As oxygen levels in blood emerge as key to detecting the disease, Nonin Medical says orders have surged.
Medtronic's operational headquarters in Fridley.

Medtronic says U.S. sales off 60%, warns of big earnings hit from pandemic

Company says profits will be down in the quarter, as spending continues while COVID-19 hurts medical device sales
Dr. Andreas Wieser prepares to test a blood sample for the coronavirus, in Munich, April 17, 2020. Germany was the first large democracy to contain th

FDA warns against use of unproven COVID-19 antibody tests

As tests proliferate in the U.S., regulators say they shouldn't be used as the sole basis to confirm COVID-19 exposure.
A woman walked towards St. Ann's Residence in Duluth, which also had a deadly outbreak. Ten deaths have been reported in Winona County, all in congreg

10 Winona Co. deaths tied to care facilities

As of Sunday, Winona's 10 deaths gave the southeastern Minnesota county the second-highest death toll in the state, behind only the much more populous Hennepin County.
Medical workers administered drive-up COVID-19 tests Saturday outside the Sanford Worthington Clinic.

143 new coronavirus cases, 13 more deaths

Sunday's total, reported by Minnesota health officials, marks the state's second-highest number of deaths reported in a single day.
Thomas Rid

Review: 'Active Measures,' by Thomas Rid

NONFICTION: Laying out the long history of Russian disinformation in America.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M explores methods to decontaminate used N95 masks

A chronic shortage of respirators has prompted a search for safe ways to reuse the devices.
University of Minnesota campus

FDA approves production of device designed at U to help breathing

The first low-cost Coventor to help COVID-19 patients will roll off a Boston Scientific assembly line in Maple Grove in another month.
On April 8, 2020, Gov. Tim Walz provided an update on the state’s next steps to respond to COVID-19. He was joined by Health Commissioner Jan Malcol

New daily cases hit triple digits in state

Minnesota reported more than 100 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Six newly reported deaths brought the state's total to 70, roughly two-thirds in congregate care settings.
The test results for a patient are displayed on the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at Detroit Health Center, Friday, April 10, 2020, in De

Accuracy of coming COVID-19 tests uncertain: 'We don't really know'

Asked how well the new tests work, Mayo Clinic internist and biostatistician Dr. Colin West said: "The most honest answer is, we don't really know."
Ambulances came and went at Hennepin County Medical Center on Thursday in Minneapolis.

Minnesota's COVID-19 deaths grow by 5 with 70 new cases

Those between the ages of 20 and 44 have most cases in Minnesota, but elderly residents account for the most deaths.
Workers at the Minnetronix Medical manufacturing facility in St. Paul. Minnetronix, a St. Paul-based company that manufactures medical devices under c

Companies study Medtronic plans in race to bolster ventilator production

Engineers are studying a variety of designs in the effort to bolster production of the potentially lifesaving devices.
President Donald Trump opens a box containing a 5-minute test for COVID-19 from Abbott Laboratories as Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and

Abbott's 5-minute test among products with Minnesota ties on front lines of virus fight

Developments include a five-minute coronavirus test and a device that removes fluids from patients.
Kyle Eaton, the lead pastor at Rock Hill Community Church in Duluth, preached to a nearly empty room while being live streamed. The only people in the

4 more deaths in Minnesota, 3 are from group-care facilities

The 503 confirmed cases included at least 21 residents of long-term care facilities and another 11 health care workers who worked in those centers.
Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove listened as Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz spoke at a news conference last week to

10,000 Minn. health care workers filed jobless claims in the past 10 days

Laid-off workers include those who do work related to minimally invasive and elective procedures and health care support workers.