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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.

Long List of Agent Orange Decisions Awaits VA in 2017

The Department of Veterans Affairs must decide whether to add new diseases to its list of conditions presumed to be linked to Agent Orange. It also faces calls to compensate naval veterans and those who served along the Korean demilitarized zone.

ProPublica Files Lawsuit Seeking Agent Orange Documents From the VA

The suit claims the VA failed to promptly process a FOIA request for correspondence with a consultant about the defoliant used during the Vietnam War.

The Children of Agent Orange

For decades, Vietnam veterans have suspected that the defoliant harmed their children. But the VA hasn’t studied its own data for clues. A new ProPublica analysis has found that the odds of having a child born with birth defects were more than a third higher for veterans exposed to Agent Orange than for those who weren’t.

A Public Official’s Private Pain

A Washington legislator had two children after her husband returned from the Vietnam War. One lacks sight in an eye. The other died of cardiomyopathy at age 21. “We don’t have this in the family,” she said. “The veterans would all say, ‘You know it’s probably Agent Orange.’”

We’ve Updated Dollars for Docs. Here’s What’s New.

ProPublica has been publishing data on conflicts of interest in medicine since 2010. We’ve updated our Dollars for Docs database with billions of dollars in payments made last year.

Updated Dollars for Docs

We’ve updated Dollars for Docs. It now includes payments made from August 2013 through December 2015 — some $6.25 billion in payments to more than 800,000 doctors.

Medical Innovation Bill Would Water Down Disclosure of Industry Payments to Doctors

The 21st Century Cures Act aims to support biomedical research. But along the way, it would exempt certain payments from drug companies to doctors. Critics say such changes are a mistake.

High-dollar Prescribers Proliferate in Medicare’s Drug Program

Forty-one health providers prescribed more than $5 million in drugs in 2011. Last year, that jumped to 514. “The trends in this space are troubling and don’t show any signs of abating,” a federal official said.

We've Updated Prescriber Checkup with 2014 Data

Use this tool to compare how your doctor prescribes medications in Medicare's drug program with other doctors in the same specialty and state. Our data includes information on drug costs and prescriptions for risky drugs.

New Study Could Pressure VA to Expand Agent Orange Benefits

More than four decades after the end of the Vietnam War, research is still showing the effects of the herbicide Agent Orange. The latest findings: An association between exposure and high blood pressure.

Dr. Orange: The Secret Nemesis of Sick Vets

For decades, the military and the VA have repeatedly turned to one man to guide decisions on whether Agent Orange harmed vets in Vietnam and elsewhere. His reliable answer: No.

After Cancer Diagnosis, Vet Refutes Government’s Agent Orange Expert — And Wins

After the VA rejects his claim for benefits, an Air Force veteran challenges the findings of the government’s go-to Agent Orange consultant. Six years later he emerges the rare victor.

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.

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