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Charles Ornstein

Charles Ornstein

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Charles Ornstein is a senior reporter for ProPublica covering health care and the pharmaceutical industry.

In collaboration with Tracy Weber, Ornstein was a lead reporter on a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times titled "The Troubles at King/Drew" hospital that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service in 2005. His ProPublica series, with Tracy Weber, "When Caregivers Harm: California's Unwatched Nurses" was a finalist for a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Ornstein reported for the Times starting in 2001, in the last five years largely in partnership with Weber. Earlier, Ornstein spent five years as a reporter for the Dallas Morning News. He is a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and a former Kaiser Family Foundation media fellow.

Articles

Once Again, the VA Turns Down Navy Vets for Agent Orange Benefits

A federal court had ordered the VA to reassess its policy denying Agent Orange benefits to Navy sailors who served in the Vietnam War. The VA’s conclusion: They still don’t qualify.

Nursing Assistant Fired, Charged After Posting Nude Video of 93-Year-Old on Snapchat

The incident, which allegedly took place earlier this month, is the most recent in a string of surreptitious recordings by employees of nursing homes and assisted-living centers. Many involve the social media network Snapchat.

The Consequences for Violating Patient Privacy in California? Depends Where the Hospital Is

A ProPublica analysis found California officials are inconsistently enforcing a 2008 patient privacy law. Hospitals in the state’s Inland Empire rack up deficiencies while Los Angeles hospitals almost never do.

Farrah Fawcett Was Right — We Have Little Medical Privacy

Our reporter spent the past year reporting on loopholes and lax enforcement of the federal patient-privacy law known as HIPAA. He was often reminded of his interview years ago with Fawcett after her privacy was breached. "It seems that there are areas that should be off-limits," she said.

Another VA Headache: Privacy Violations Rising at Veterans’ Medical Facilities

Deceased vets’ data has been sent to the wrong widows. Employees have snooped on the records of patients who’ve committed suicide. And whistleblowers say their own medical privacy has been violated. In response, the VA says patient privacy is a priority.

HIPAA Helper

Who is Revealing Your Private Medical Information?

Methodology: How We Analyzed Privacy Violation Data

ProPublica followed the paper trail to find out the health care facilities that repeatedly violated patient privacy laws. Find out how we did it.

Few Consequences For Health Privacy Law’s Repeat Offenders

Regulators have logged dozens, even hundreds, of complaints against some health providers for violating federal patient privacy law. Warnings are doled out privately, but sanctions are imposed only rarely. Companies say they take privacy seriously.

New Jersey Psychology Practice Revealed Patients’ Mental Disorders in Debt Lawsuits

When pursuing unpaid bills, Short Hills Associates in Clinical Psychology disclosed the diagnoses and treatments of patients, including minor children, in court papers. “It turned my life upside down,” one former patient said. HIPAA doesn’t apply.

Nursing Home Workers Share Explicit Photos of Residents on Snapchat

A ProPublica review found 35 cases since 2012 in which nursing home or assisted living workers surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents on social media. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat.

Inappropriate Social Media Posts by Nursing Home Workers, Detailed

Below are details of 36 incidents since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers shared photos or videos of residents on social media networks. The details come from government inspection reports, court cases and media reports.

Celebrities’ Medical Records Tempt Hospital Workers to Snoop

Snooping on celebrities has been a bane for health systems around the country for years. Here's a partial list of high-profile breaches and the consequences that accompanied them.

Small-Scale Violations of Medical Privacy Often Cause the Most Harm

Breaches that expose the health details of just a patient or two are proliferating nationwide. Regulators focus on larger privacy violations and rarely take action on small ones, despite the harm.

Brand-Name Drugs Increase Cost But Not Patient Satisfaction

As presidential candidates focus more on drug prices, new data from the website Iodine shows that generics scored highest among users in three popular drug categories. ProPublica has teamed up with Iodine to add user reviews to our Prescriber Checkup tool.

Privacy Not Included: Federal Law Lags Behind New Tech

The federal privacy law known as HIPAA doesn’t cover home paternity tests, fitness trackers or health apps. When a Florida woman complained after seeing the paternity test results of thousands of people online, federal regulators told her they didn’t have jurisdiction.

When Buying Pharmacies, Valeant Affiliates Haven’t Disclosed California License Denial

Officials at Philidor Rx Services, which was terminated today by two major pharmacy benefits managers, didn’t tell regulators in Texas or California about the license denial when seeking to buy stakes in other pharmacies.

Federal Investigators Looking at Valeant’s Contact Lens Dealings

The Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Valeant’s recent acquisition of a company that makes a key component of rigid contact lenses violates anti-trust laws.

Further Allegations of Misconduct Plague Valeant’s Pharmacies in California

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, a pharmacy owner claims a company associated with Valeant is trying to circumvent California law to distribute drugs in the state.

When Students Become Patients, Privacy Suffers

University students have less privacy for their campus health records than they would have if they sought care off campus. Schools say they are trying to seek the right balance between privacy and safety.

After Sexual Assault, Woman Says University Lawyers Accessed Her Counseling Records

Laura Hanson says University of Oregon attorneys obtained her counseling records without her permission. The university says it did nothing wrong, but has since changed its policy.
Charles Ornstein

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