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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.

Updated Dollars for Docs

This release includes updated data, payments to teaching hospitals, and information about brand-name prescribing rates for some doctors.

Another Senator Calls for Action on Social Media Abuse of Nursing Home Residents

The move follows a ProPublica report that identified some three dozen incidents since 2012 in which dehumanizing or degrading photos of residents were posted on social media sites.

Researchers Call for More Study of Agent Orange Effects on Vets and Their Kids

A committee of the Institute of Medicine said even though the Vietnam War ended four decades ago, much is still not known about the way the herbicide Agent Orange has impacted vets and perhaps their children.

Senator Asks Privacy Regulators to Stop Abuse of Nursing Home Residents on Social Media

ProPublica reported in December about three dozen inappropriate posts by employees of nursing homes and assisted living centers. A top Democrat wants details on efforts to combat the trend.

The Evolution of the VA’s Vietnam Ship List

Navy veterans who served in Vietnam often must prove that their ships entered territorial waters in order to receive Agent Orange benefits. It wasn’t always that way. The following history explains how we got to this point.

Ailing Vietnam Vets Hunt Through Ships’ Logs to Prove They Should Get Benefits

Neither the Navy nor the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a comprehensive list of which ships went where during the Vietnam War. As a result, veterans themselves often have to prove their ships served in areas where Agent Orange was sprayed.

A Blow to Health Care Transparency

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require many large employers to submit health care claims to a massive database. Here’s why that matters.

Once Again, the VA Turns Down Navy Vets for Agent Orange Benefits

A federal court had ordered the VA to reassess its policy denying Agent Orange benefits to Navy sailors who served in the Vietnam War. The VA’s conclusion: They still don’t qualify.

Nursing Assistant Fired, Charged After Posting Nude Video of 93-Year-Old on Snapchat

The incident, which allegedly took place earlier this month, is the most recent in a string of surreptitious recordings by employees of nursing homes and assisted-living centers. Many involve the social media network Snapchat.

The Consequences for Violating Patient Privacy in California? Depends Where the Hospital Is

A ProPublica analysis found California officials are inconsistently enforcing a 2008 patient privacy law. Hospitals in the state’s Inland Empire rack up deficiencies while Los Angeles hospitals almost never do.

Farrah Fawcett Was Right — We Have Little Medical Privacy

Our reporter spent the past year reporting on loopholes and lax enforcement of the federal patient-privacy law known as HIPAA. He was often reminded of his interview years ago with Fawcett after her privacy was breached. "It seems that there are areas that should be off-limits," she said.

Another VA Headache: Privacy Violations Rising at Veterans’ Medical Facilities

Deceased vets’ data has been sent to the wrong widows. Employees have snooped on the records of patients who’ve committed suicide. And whistleblowers say their own medical privacy has been violated. In response, the VA says patient privacy is a priority.

Methodology: How We Analyzed Privacy Violation Data

ProPublica followed the paper trail to find out the health care facilities that repeatedly violated patient privacy laws. Find out how we did it.

Few Consequences For Health Privacy Law's Repeat Offenders

Regulators have logged dozens, even hundreds, of complaints against some health providers for violating federal patient privacy law. Warnings are doled out privately, but sanctions are imposed only rarely. Companies say they take privacy seriously.

HIPAA Helper

Who is Revealing Your Private Medical Information?

New Jersey Psychology Practice Revealed Patients’ Mental Disorders in Debt Lawsuits

When pursuing unpaid bills, Short Hills Associates in Clinical Psychology disclosed the diagnoses and treatments of patients, including minor children, in court papers. “It turned my life upside down,” one former patient said. HIPAA doesn’t apply.

Nursing Home Workers Share Explicit Photos of Residents on Snapchat

A ProPublica review found 35 cases since 2012 in which nursing home or assisted living workers surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents on social media. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat.

Inappropriate Social Media Posts by Nursing Home Workers, Detailed

Below are details of 47 incidents since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers shared photos or videos of residents on social media networks. The details come from government inspection reports, court cases and media reports.

Small-Scale Violations of Medical Privacy Often Cause the Most Harm

Breaches that expose the health details of just a patient or two are proliferating nationwide. Regulators focus on larger privacy violations and rarely take action on small ones, despite the harm.

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