Close Comment Creative Commons Donate Email Facebook Mobile Phone Podcast Print RSS Search Search Signal Twitter WhatsApp

ProPublica

Donate

The Prescribers

What Doctors Are Prescribing

Never-before-released government prescription records shows that some doctors and other health professionals across the country prescribe large quantities of drugs known to be potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive for their patients. And officials have done little to detect or deter these hazardous prescribing patterns. Medicare’s failure to monitor what doctors are prescribing has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on excessive use of brand-name medication and exposed the elderly and disabled to drugs they should avoid.

Risky, Overused Medications Prescribed Far Less Often in the Aloha State

Medicare patients in Hawaii take fewer opioid painkillers and fewer antibiotics, on average, than those in any other state. Physicians and health policy experts cite demographics and healthier lifestyles as possible reasons why.

We’ve Updated Prescriber Checkup

Medicare’s popular prescription-drug program serves more than 42 million people and pays for more than one of every four prescriptions written nationwide. Use this tool to find and compare doctors and other providers in Part D in 2015.

‘Extreme’ Use of Painkillers and Doctor Shopping Plague Medicare, New Report Says

Some Medicare beneficiaries are being prescribed opioids by 10 or more doctors, or are filling prescriptions for more than 1,000 pills a month. Hundreds of doctors appear to be prescribing indiscriminately, says the inspector general of Health and Human Services.

How a Simple Fix to Reduce Aberrant Prescribing Became Not So Simple

In 2014, the government said health providers would have to enroll in Medicare in order to prescribe drugs to seniors and disabled beneficiaries. Delay after delay has pushed back the requirement until 2019. It’s been “much more challenging” than anticipated, an official concedes.

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.

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.

An Unintended Side Effect of Transparency

Some readers are using a ProPublica database to search for doctors who freely prescribe opioid painkillers, raising questions.

Brand-Name Drugs Increase Cost But Not Patient Satisfaction

As presidential candidates focus more on drug prices, new data from the website Iodine shows that generics scored highest among users in three popular drug categories. ProPublica has teamed up with Iodine to add user reviews to our Prescriber Checkup tool.

Fraud Still Plagues Medicare Drug Program, Watchdog Finds

Medicare has increased oversight of its prescription drug program but many holes remain, allowing fraud and abuse to proliferate. Questionable practices were found at 1,400 pharmacies, which collectively billed Medicare $2.3 billion in 2014.

One Nation, Under Sedation: Medicare Paid for Nearly 40 Million Tranquilizer Prescriptions in 2013

Congress wouldn’t allow Medicare to pay for benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Ativan until 2013. Now, the medications are among the most prescribed in its drug program.

Government Releases Massive Trove of Data on Doctors’ Prescribing Patterns

The move follows a ProPublica investigation showing that Medicare did little to find dangerous prescribing by doctors to seniors and the disabled. It is also part of the government’s new push to bring transparency to taxpayer-supported medical care.

As Controlled Substance Use Rises in Medicare, Prolific Prescribers Face More Scrutiny

Despite warnings about abuse, Medicare covered more prescriptions for potent controlled substances in 2012 than it did in 2011. The program's top prescribers often have faced disciplinary action or criminal charges related to their medical practices.

Illinois Suspends Medical License of Leading Prescriber of Antipsychotic Drugs

For years, Dr. Michael Reinstein prescribed the powerful drug clozapine more than any other doctor in Medicare or Medicaid. His patterns were the subject of two ProPublica articles and he faces a federal civil lawsuit alleging health care fraud.

Suspicious Prescriptions for HIV Drugs Abound in Medicare

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finds Medicare spent tens of millions of dollars in 2012 for HIV drugs there’s little evidence patients needed. A 77-year-old woman with no record of HIV got $33,500 of medication.

Fanny Pack Mixup Unravels Massive Medicare Fraud Scheme

Two secretaries in a doctor’s office have pleaded guilty and a pharmacy owner faces charges in a scam that Medicare allowed to thrive for more than two years.

Following Abuses, Medicare Tightens Reins on Its Drug Program

Medicare gives itself the power to ban physicians if they prescribe medications in abusive ways. The action follows a series of articles by ProPublica documenting inappropriate prescribing, waste and fraud in its popular drug program.

The Perils of Problematic Prescribing: A Double Dose of Warnings

Two new reports from the CDC show the dangers of overprescribing narcotics and antibiotics. Is there a way for doctors and consumers to make better decisions?

Follow ProPublica

Our Latest Stories

Current site Current page