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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

Agent Orange Act Was Supposed to Help Vietnam Veterans — But Many Still Don’t Qualify

The 1991 law presumes veterans were exposed to the defoliant if they have certain diseases and “set foot” in Vietnam, but Navy vets and Air Force vets in Thailand say they were also exposed. Here’s our guide to groups seeking Agent Orange benefits.

Popular Blood Thinner Causing Deaths, Injuries at Nursing Homes

Some facilities fail to properly oversee Coumadin. Too much can cause bleeding; too little, clots. Nursing homes are “a perfect setup for bad things happening,” one expert says.

Transparency Program Obscures Pharma Payments to Nurses, Physician Assistants

New data on drug and device company payments to doctors largely excludes nurse practitioners and physician assistants, though they play an ever-larger role in health care. One advanced-practice nurse pleaded guilty last month to taking drug company kickbacks.

New Dollars for Docs

Pharmaceutical and medical device companies paid billions to doctors from late 2013 through 2014, new data shows. Search for your doctor in our interactive database.

A Pharma Payment A Day Keeps Docs’ Finances Okay

New data on payments from drug and device companies to doctors show that many doctors received payments on 100 or more days last year. Some received payments on more days than they didn't.

About the Dollars for Docs Data

Details behind our drug company money database.

Fraud Still Plagues Medicare Drug Program, Watchdog Finds

Medicare has increased oversight of its prescription drug program but many holes remain, allowing fraud and abuse to proliferate. Questionable practices were found at 1,400 pharmacies, which collectively billed Medicare $2.3 billion in 2014.

One Nation, Under Sedation: Medicare Paid for Nearly 40 Million Tranquilizer Prescriptions in 2013

Congress wouldn’t allow Medicare to pay for benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Ativan until 2013. Now, the medications are among the most prescribed in its drug program.

‘Kiss Everybody’: Parents’ Voicemails Preserve Their Memory in Death

Reporter marvels how the things he cherishes most about his parents aren’t those that he would have ever imagined.

Government Releases Massive Trove of Data on Doctors’ Prescribing Patterns

The move follows a ProPublica investigation showing that Medicare did little to find dangerous prescribing by doctors to seniors and the disabled. It is also part of the government’s new push to bring transparency to taxpayer-supported medical care.

Health Data Breaches Sow Confusion, Frustration

One consumer was the victim of hacking attacks on two different health insurers; a company’s privacy officer didn’t realize that health insurer Anthem even had her data. “It gives you a new perspective when you’re actually one of the folks whose data is disclosed.”

Mark Cuban’s Advice a ‘Recipe For Making All Of Us Sick,’ Expert Says

The Dallas Mavericks owner suggests quarterly bloodwork for those who can afford it, as a way of creating a personal benchmark. A national expert on overtesting explains why that isn’t a good idea.

The Cost of a Cure: Medicare Spent $4.5 Billion on New Hepatitis C Drugs Last Year

Medicare's spending on drugs to treat hepatitis C soared more than 15 fold from 2013 to 2014 as new breakthroughs came to the market, according to previously undisclosed federal data. The drugs cure the disease, but taxpayers are footing the bill.

Despite Wave of Data Breaches, Official Says Patient Privacy Isn’t Dead

Yet another health insurer reported a massive data breach this week, affecting the financial and medical information of 11 million people. We asked the head of the federal agency tasked with investigating these issues whether the notion of patient privacy was outmoded.

New York Legislation Would Make It a Felony to Film Patients Without Prior Consent

The bill was filed after a ProPublica story about a man whose death was recorded by the real-life medical series “NY Med” without permission. His widow recognized her husband while watching the show on TV.

Ebola-infected Nurse Contends Dallas Hospital Violated Her Privacy

In a lawsuit filed today, nurse Nina Pham says that a colleague videotaped her without her permission and then the hospital released the tape to the media.

Over 1,100 Health Data Breaches, but Few Fines

Since October 2009, health care organizations and their business partners reported 1,142 large-scale data breaches, each affecting at least 500 people, to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, seven breaches have resulted in fines.

Fines Remain Rare Even As Health Data Breaches Multiply

Federal health watchdogs say they are cracking down on organizations that don’t protect the privacy and security of patient records, but data suggests otherwise.

Huge Prescriber of Risky Antipsychotic Drug to Plead Guilty to Taking Kickbacks

Dr. Michael Reinstein has been the subject of two ProPublica investigations. For years, even while under federal investigation, he prescribed more of the drug clozapine than any other doctor in the United States.

Why Pharma Payments to Doctors Were So Hard to Parse

Flaws in information submitted to Open Payments, a government database of financial relationships in the medical field, complicated our analysis.
Charles Ornstein

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