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Charles Ornstein

Senior Editor

Photo of Charles Ornstein

Charles Ornstein is a senior editor at ProPublica, overseeing the Local Reporting Network. From 2008 to 2017, he was a senior reporter covering health care and the pharmaceutical industry.

Prior to joining ProPublica, he was a member of the metro investigative projects team at the Los Angeles Times. In 2004, he and Tracy Weber were lead authors on a series on Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, a troubled hospital in South Los Angeles. The articles won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service.

In 2009, he and Weber worked on a series of stories that detailed serious failures in oversight by the California Board of Registered Nursing and nursing boards around the country. The work was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

He previously worked at the Dallas Morning News, where he covered health care on the business desk and worked in the Washington bureau. Ornstein is a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and an adjunct journalism professor at Columbia University. Ornstein is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

Patient Died at New York VA Hospital After Alarm Was Ignored

The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General again found problems with the care provided by nurses in a cardiac monitoring unit at the VA hospital in Manhattan.

American Pain Foundation Shuts Down as Senators Launch Investigation of Prescription Narcotics

Sens. Baucus and Grassley demand evidence of financial support from the drug industry to nonprofit groups that advocate use of opioid painkillers, including the newly defunct American Pain Foundation.

VA Nurses Scrutinized After Patient Deaths in Two States

A review of records at 29 Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals found that some facilities didn't keep proper track of their nurses' skills or competency.

Allergan Erases Doctor Payment Records

You can still find some older Allergan payments in ProPublica's Dollars for Docs database, along with data from 11 other drug companies.

Senate Watchdog Targets High-Prescribing Medicaid Docs

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wants to know why an Ohio doctor wrote 54 prescriptions per weekday for the antipsychotic Abilify, while the biggest prescriber of Seroquel wrote an average nine prescriptions per hour.

Drug Companies Reduce Payments to Doctors as Scrutiny Mounts

Continued reporting on the influence of pharmaceutical money on medicine spurred tighter rules at medical schools across the nation.

The Champion of Painkillers

The annual death toll from overdoses of painkillers has reached almost 15,000, prompting the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to term it an "epidemic." But the American Pain Foundation continues to claim the risks are overblown. The advocacy group's biggest supporter? The drug industry.

Two Leaders in Pain Treatment Have Long Ties to Drug Industry

American Pain Foundation board members Scott Fishman and Perry Fine, both physicians, have lectured and authored publications funded by makers of narcotic painkillers. They say the support doesn’t bias them.

Florida Sanctions Top Medicaid Prescribers — But Only After A Shove

Medicaid programs have long had evidence that a few physicians prescribed risky drugs in excess, but it wasn’t until Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, demanded to know the top prescribers that states began to investigate.

Feds File Massive Fraud Case Against Allied Home Mortgage

Houston-based Allied and its founder, Jim Hodge, were the subject of a July 2010 investigation by ProPublica detailing alleged misconduct in 18 states. The government suspended Allied from issuing government-backed mortgages, saying nearly a third of its FHA loans between 2001 and 2010 defaulted.

Doctors Avoid Penalties in Suits Against Medical Firms

At least 15 drug and medical-device companies have paid $6.5 billion since 2008 to settle accusations of marketing fraud or kickbacks, but none of the more than 75 doctors named as participants were sanctioned.

Troubled Health-Care Staffing Chain Settles With Government for $150 Million

Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. had been accused of submitting false bills to federal and state health programs. An earlier ProPublica investigation found that the company had hired several nurses despite a history of problems.

News Reports Cite Drop in Physician Speaking Fees

Regional newspapers that analyzed ProPublica's Dollars for Docs data say drug company payments to physician speakers have declined in their states, suggesting that new restrictions and publicity are making an impact.

Patients Deserve to Know What Drug Companies Pay Their Doctor

ProPublica's newly updated Dollars for Docs database offers a glimpse of what patients can expect in 2013, when all drug and medical-device companies must report to the federal government what they pay doctors to help market their products.

Doctors Dine on Drug Companies’ Dime

Hundreds of thousands of doctors have accepted free meals from pharmaceutical companies that invite them to scientific or educational sessions. At least 20 physicians accepted more than $2,000 worth of meals from one company last year, ProPublica's Dollars for Docs database shows.

Piercing the Veil, More Drug Companies Reveal Payments to Doctors

An update of ProPublica's Dollars for Docs database includes more than $760 million in payments from 12 pharmaceutical companies to physicians and other health-care providers for consulting, speaking, research and expenses.

Dollars for Docs: See What Payments Your Doctor May Be Getting From Drug Companies

Has Your Doctor Received Drug Company Money?

With Our Dollars for Docs Update Coming, Drug Companies Defend 'Interactions' With Physicians

As ProPublica gets ready to refresh its Dollars for Docs database listing payments from drug companies to hundreds of thousands of doctors, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says paid physician speakers play a critical role in improving patient care.

UCLA Health System Pays $865,000 to Settle Celebrity Privacy Allegations

Alleged breaches of patient privacy at UCLA involving entertainers like Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and others and have been a source of embarrassment for the health system for several years. UCLA said it has taken steps to improve protection of patient privacy rights.

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