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Charles Ornstein

Senior Reporter

Photo of Charles Ornstein

Charles Ornstein is a senior reporter for ProPublica covering health care and the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining ProPublica in 2008, 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.

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.

The Exceptions: A Rare Few Score Agent Orange Benefits for Bladder Cancer

While most vets’ claims for benefits are denied, some have figured out a way to win.

New York Hospital to Pay $2.2 Million Fine for Allowing Filming of Patients Without Consent

Federal action could spell the end of emergency room reality television.

Amid Public Feuds, A Venerated Medical Journal Finds Itself Under Attack

A widely derided editorial, a controversial series of articles and delayed corrections have prompted critics to question the direction of the New England Journal of Medicine.

New York Top Court Revives Suit Against Hospital That Let Man’s Death Be Filmed

Mark Chanko’s family sued NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and one of its doctors for allowing a TV crew to film his death without permission. A lower court had thrown the case out, but the New York Court of Appeals revived it.

Now There’s Proof: Docs Who Get Company Cash Tend to Prescribe More Brand-Name Meds

The more money doctors receive from drug and medical device companies, the more brand-name drugs they tend to prescribe, a new ProPublica analysis shows. Even a meal can make a difference.

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