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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.

The Heart Rhythm Society Responds to ProPublica’s Questions

Reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber sent the Heart Rhythm Society a set of questions about potential conflicts of interest regarding the group’s acceptance of drug and device industry marketing money. The responses below were provided by the group’s president, Dr. Douglas L. Packer, and president-elect, Dr. Bruce L. Wilkoff.

Medical Groups Shy About Detailing Industry Financial Support

Sen. Charles Grassley asked 33 health organizations who their corporate backers are, and responses show that some get half their income from the medical industry. Critics say public disclosure of industry ties is needed.

Dollars for Docs Adds Payouts from HIV Drug Maker

ViiV Healthcare, which specializes in HIV medications, disclosed paying $3.4 million in speaking and consulting fees to doctors during the first three quarters of 2010. It becomes the eighth company in Dollars for Docs database.

Dollars for Docs Sparks Policy Rewrite at Colorado Teaching Hospitals

The University of Colorado Denver and its affiliated teaching hospitals have launched an overhaul of conflict of interest policies after a ProPublica database revealed extensive ties between its faculty and pharmaceutical companies.

Dollars for Docs Payments Approach $300 Million

ProPublica has added another $13 million in payments to our Dollars for Docs database of drug-company spending on doctors and other health professionals. That brings the total to nearly $295 million.

Drug Companies Retain Tight Control of Physicians’ Presentations

Drug companies keep strict control of materials doctors use in paid presentations about pharmaceuticals. The companies say this ensures that speakers comply with U.S. FDA regulations.

Med Schools Flunk at Keeping Faculty Off Pharma Speaking Circuit

Top U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals are failing to adequately enforce policies that prohibit or restrict faculty physicians from being paid by drug companies to give promotional speeches about their products.

In Minnesota, Drug Company Reports of Payments to Doctors Arrive Riddled With Mistakes

A new federal plan will require drug and medical device companies to report all payments to U.S. physicians in 2013. The danger? As Minnesota discovered, some information submitted may not be accurate.

Drug Firms Say They'll Take Closer Look at the Docs They Pay

Seven drug companies paid $7.1 million to 292 doctors who faced disciplinary action or other regulatory sanctions, ProPublica found. Several companies say they may take steps to tighten screening procedures for physicians who are paid as speakers or for other activities promoting prescription drugs.

Dollars for Docs: Who’s On Pharma’s Top-Paid List?

A review of the highest-earning physicians in ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs database offers insight into why some medical professionals are drawn to the lucrative sideline of public speaking to promote favored drugs.

How the Drug Companies Say They Screen Their Speaker Docs

The seven drug companies that have disclosed their payments to doctors say they screen their "speakers" but many do not check state medical disciplinary databases.

Lawsuits Say Pharma Illegally Paid Doctors to Push Their Drugs

Pharma companies are being accused in lawsuits of paying doctors to push off-label uses of their drugs or financially rewarding doctors for prescribing their brand-name medications.

Docs on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials

Hundreds of doctors paid by pharmaceutical companies to promote their drugs have been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists, ProPublica has found. We compiled data from seven companies, covering $257.8 million in payouts since 2009 for speaking, consulting and other duties

States Fail to Report Disciplined Caregivers to Federal Database

Hundreds of state agencies have failed to tell the federal government about health professionals they disciplined, ProPublica has learned, meaning frontline workers who have a record of on-the-job misconduct, incompetence or criminal acts aren't flagged to potential employers.

Troubled Nurses Skip from State to State Under Compact

A 24-state compact has provided cover for nurses suspected of negligence or misconduct, leaving them free to work across nearly half the country and potentially put patients in jeopardy.

Timeline: Allied’s Trail of Sanctions

Texas Mortgage Firm Survives and Thrives Despite Repeat Sanctions

Despite repeated regulatory sanctions across more than a dozen states, Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp. continues to be a major FHA lender. Borrowers in Louisiana, West Virginia allege that Allied brokers misled them and diverted funds.

Head of Allied Home Mortgage Has Had a Bumpy Journey

Jim Hodge started what became one of the biggest mortgage operators the same year his previous savings and loan was seized and sold by the Resolution Trust Corporation.

California Eyes Discipline for 2,000 Nurses Sanctioned by Other States

After ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times found hundreds of California nurses had been sanctioned elsewhere for neglect, drug use and criminal conduct, the state’s nursing board ran checks that uncovered thousands of similar cases.

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