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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.

Eight Times Agent Orange’s Biggest Defender Has Been Wrong or Misleading

For decades, the government has relied on Alvin Young to advise it on herbicides. Here are some of his statements, and what others have said about them.

Federal Health Officials Seek to Stop Social Media Abuse of Nursing Home Residents

After ProPublica identified dozens of cases of dehumanizing photos posted on social media sites, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a plan to increase its oversight to prevent and punish such abuse.

The Secret Documents That Detail How Patients’ Privacy is Breached

A federal agency sends thousands of letters a year to health providers closing out complaints about HIPAA violations. Though the government could make those letters public, it doesn’t. ProPublica has started to do so.

Health Gadgets and Apps Outpace Privacy Protections, Report Finds

In 2009, Congress asked for recommendations on what to do about information that falls outside the privacy law known as HIPAA. Today, health officials released their report, but offered no suggestions.

As Cases Multiply, Officials Scramble to Stop Abuse of Nursing Home Residents on Social Media

Iowa health officials recently discovered it wasn’t against state law for a nursing home worker to share a photo on Snapchat of a resident covered in feces. They are trying to change that.

VA Officials Pledge New Studies Into Effects of Agent Orange

“These individuals deserve an answer,” a top VA official said at a forum hosted by ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot to address the possible multi-generational impacts of the herbicide.

Are Copay Coupons Actually Making Drugs More Expensive?

Consumers, including a ProPublica reporter, love saving money using drug copay coupons. But by upending the benefit structure of health insurers, these clever marketing tools may be increasing costs for everyone.

Drug and Device Makers Find Receptive Audience at For-profit, Southern Hospitals

A ProPublica analysis shows that where a hospital is located and who owns it make a big difference in what share of its doctors take industry payments.

What Percentage of Doctors at Your Hospital Take Drug, Device Payments?

Where a hospital is located makes a big difference in how many of its doctors take payments from drug and medical device companies. See how your state compares and look up your hospital.

Florida Doctor Pleads Guilty to Fraud — Years After Complaints About His Prescribing

The onetime top prescriber of mental health drugs in Florida’s Medicaid program is awaiting sentencing on federal fraud charges long after he was flagged for his questionable prescribing practices.

Feed Me, Pharma: More Evidence That Industry Meals Are Linked to Costlier Prescribing

A third study shows an association between physician drug choices and their interactions with the pharmaceutical industry.

On Agent Orange, VA Weighs Politics and Cost Along With Science

Although veterans advocates say the VA should be guided by science as it makes benefit decisions, documents and interviews show that other considerations also come into play. One concern: Will other groups want benefits too?

Stung by Yelp Reviews, Health Providers Spill Patient Secrets

The vast majority of reviews on Yelp are positive. But in trying to respond to critical ones, some doctors, dentists and chiropractors appear to be violating the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA.

University of California Regent Violated Ethics Rules, Review Finds

A secret 2015 report found that a doctor on the UC board of regents tried to negotiate a deal between his eye clinics and UCLA, and engaged in discussions in which he had a financial interest. He denied wrongdoing but resigned as chair of the regents’ health committee.

Vietnam Vets Push VA to Link Bladder Cancer to Agent Orange

The Department of Veterans Affairs is evaluating new research as it decides whether to extend benefits to exposed vets with the disease.

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