Here are this week's top must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica's ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and just including the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to MuckReads@ProPublica.org. The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured on our site and @ProPublica.
Hospice Turns Months-to-Live Patient Into Years of Abusing Drugs, Bloomberg News
A patient was given what his doctor said was the highest Oxycontin and oxycodone prescription he could write. After being admitted to hospice 11 months later, seemingly with just months to live, his prescription was increased to 14 times the previous level. Years later, he left still alive and addicted to the narcotics.
Contributed by Peter Waldman
Doubts Surface as Police Sharply Increase Taser Use, Chicago Tribune
Chicago police used Tasers over twice per day in 2011, a rate five times higher than in 2008. Suburban departments have doubled their Taser use.
Contributed by @scribeguy
Medtronic Paid Millions to Influential UW Chairman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
An orthopedic surgeon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison gets so much money from the medical device firm Medtronic that he is required to meet annually with his department chairman. But the chairman, Thomas Zdeblick, got more than 25 times that amount from Medtronic during the same time. Zdeblick declined to comment.
Contributed by @LindaAustin_
State Reports Detail 11 Patient Deaths Linked to Alarm Fatigue in Massachusetts, Boston Globe
Nurses can become desensitized to the constant blaring of monitor warnings, many of them false alarms -- a phenomenon called alarm fatigue. It's been linked to 11 deaths since 2005 in Massachusetts.
Contributed by @charlesornstein
Was Teen Killed By CIA Drone a Militant – or Innocent Victim?, ABC News
The U.S. claims a 16-year-old killed in a drone attack was a budding jihadi. His family says he was an earnest activist intent on monitoring the very drone program that killed him.
Contributed by @DafnaLinzer
Records Fail to Disclose $235 Million in State Work Given to Officials’ Private Interests, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Due to a loophole in state law, $235 million given to private organizations run by legislators or spouses of state officials was never disclosed in ethics filings. Those who benefited say statehouse colleagues knew of the overlapping roles, creating a “check” on conflicts of interest.
Contributed by Naomi Schalit
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