Health Care

Series

Opioid Billionaires

The Deceptive Marketing of OxyContin

A 911 Emergency

Rhode Island’s Deadly 911 Flaws

The $3 Million Research Breakdown

University of Illinois at Chicago’s Troubling Study

Sloan Kettering’s Crisis

A Reckoning Over Industry Ties

A Sick System

Repeat Attacks After Pleading Insanity

Trauma After Tragedy

PTSD in First Responders

Stuck Kids

Illinois Children Languish in Psychiatric Hospitals

Health Insurance Hustle

The Confounding Way We Pay for Care

Heart Failure

The Decline of a Historic Transplant Program

Lost Mothers

Maternal Care and Preventable Deaths

Wasted Medicine

Squandered Health Care Dollars

Policing Patient Privacy

Patient Privacy and Medical Care

Examining Medicare

A Closer Look at Medicare Part B

Obamacare and You

The Rollout of the Affordable Care Act

Overdose

Acetaminophen and Accidental Overdoses

Patient Safety

Exploring Quality of Care in the U.S.

Dialysis

High Costs and Hidden Perils of a Treatment Guaranteed to All

Dollars for Doctors

How Industry Money Reaches Physicians

Omniscan

Specter of MRI Disease Haunts General Electric

When Caregivers Harm

America’s Unwatched Nurses

Stories

We Found Over 700 Doctors Who Were Paid More Than a Million Dollars by Drug and Medical Device Companies

ProPublica has been tracking drug company spending on doctors since 2010. We just updated our database and found that companies are still paying private doctors huge sums for promotional talks and consulting.

Updated: Dollars for Docs

How much are your doctors being paid by drug or device companies? Look them up in our newly updated database.

Mississippi Takes Steps to End Damning Delays in Evaluating Criminal Defendants

Those accused of crimes in Mississippi spent years in jail awaiting the most basic kind of psychiatric evaluations.

Doctor Who Advocated “Unethical” Care of Vegetative Patient Is Placed on Leave

Newark Beth Israel acted after our report that its transplant program kept a patient alive to improve its metrics, while barely consulting his family.

Feds to Investigate Hospital Alleged to Have Kept Vegetative Patient Alive to Game Transplant Survival Rates

Spurred by a ProPublica investigation, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will also carry out an inquiry.

Pharmaceutical Companies Are Luring Mexicans Across the U.S. Border to Donate Blood Plasma

Companies offer high payments and bring-a-friend bonuses to Mexicans who cross the border on temporary visas to donate blood plasma. The U.S. offers weaker health protections for donors than most countries.

“It’s Very Unethical”: Audio Shows Hospital Kept Vegetative Patient on Life Support to Boost Survival Rates

Darryl Young suffered brain damage during a heart transplant at Newark Beth Israel and never woke up. But, hardly consulting his family, doctors kept him alive for a year to avoid federal scrutiny.

They’re Retired. They’re Insured. The Government Pays for It. And Trump Loves It.

Trump talks Medicare in a retirement enclave where doctors are a golf-cart ride away.

We Reported on a Nonprofit Hospital System That Sues Poor Patients. It Just Freed Thousands From Debt.

After an investigation by MLK50 and ProPublica, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is erasing debt for unpaid hospital bills owed by more than 6,500 patients. Our reporting found the hospital had profited by aggressively pursuing patients who couldn’t pay.

ER Inspector: Find and Evaluate Every Emergency Room Near You

To get the best care possible, your choice of emergency room matters. Use ER Inspector to look up hospitals ahead of time so you can evaluate where to go in an emergency.

Millions of Americans’ Medical Images and Data Are Available on the Internet. Anyone Can Take a Peek.

Hundreds of computer servers worldwide that store patient X-rays and MRIs are so insecure that anyone with a web browser or a few lines of computer code can view patient records. One expert warned about it for years.

Thousands of Poor Patients Face Lawsuits From Nonprofit Hospitals That Trap Them in Debt

Across the country, low-income patients are overcoming stigmas surrounding poverty to speak out about nonprofit hospitals that sue them. Federal officials are noticing. Help us keep the pressure on.

We Asked Prosecutors if Health Insurance Companies Care About Fraud. They Laughed at Us.

To protect their networks and bottom lines, health insurers don’t aggressively pursue widespread fraud, making it easy for scammers. Then they pass the costs off to you.

How to Make Health Insurers Take Fraud Seriously

Experts say both employers and working Americans end up paying more when health insurance companies don’t report fraud to regulators and prosecutors.

Watch Richard Sackler Deny His Family’s Role in the Opioid Crisis

Sackler testified in 2015 in a lawsuit brought by Kentucky against his family’s company, Purdue Pharma, which makes the painkiller OxyContin. We published the transcript in February. Now you can see the video.

In Men, It’s Parkinson’s. In Women, It’s Hysteria.

Neurologist Laura Boylan suffered from tremors and loss of balance that she attributed to a cyst in her brain. Why didn’t her doctors believe her?

Senators Call for Closing “Loopholes” That Make Health Care Fraud Easy

In response to a story by ProPublica and Vox that detailed how a Texas personal trainer was able to bilk private insurers for millions, six Democratic lawmakers are asking federal regulators to take action.

Are Trump’s Top Medicaid Regulators Ignoring Major Problems? Insurance Giant’s Tense Meeting With a Senator Adds to Growing Concern.

The CEO of Centene, a company now entangled in a broader federal inquiry, met with Sen. Bob Casey to allay concerns that patients are being neglected.

“Humbled”: Nonprofit Christian Hospital Dials Back Aggressive Debt Collection and Raises Wages After Our Investigation

MLK50 and ProPublica found that Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare sued thousands of low-income patients, including dozens of its own employees, over five years. The hospital system just announced major policy changes in response.

Stop Suing Patients, Advocates Advise Memphis Nonprofit Hospital System

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare promised a 30-day review of its collection policy after MLK50 and ProPublica found it sued thousands of low-income patients. Here’s what experts say the hospital should do.

Health Insurers Make It Easy for Scammers to Steal Millions. Who Pays? You.

Health insurers are regarded as fierce defenders of health care dollars. But the case of David Williams shows one reason America’s health care costs continue to rise. The personal trainer spent years posing as a doctor and billing the nation’s top insurers, making off with millions.

What Can Be Done Right Now to Stop a Basic Source of Health Care Fraud

Fraud is one reason we all pay so much for health care. But there are simple fixes that would make it more difficult for scammers to operate.

Millionaire CEO of Nonprofit Hospital That Sues the Poor Promises Review of Policies

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare promised a policy review after an investigation by MLK50 and ProPublica found it had sued 8,300 patients — including its own employees — over medical debt. Its CEO has not responded to our questions.

Have You Been Sued by a Hospital, Doctor or Other Memphis Institution? Tell Us About It.

ProPublica and MLK50 are spending the year investigating the institutions that profit from people who are poor in Memphis. Share your story with us.

Low-Wage Workers Are Being Sued for Unpaid Medical Bills by a Nonprofit Christian Hospital That Employs Them

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has sued many of its own employees over unpaid medical bills and garnishes their wages; its health care plan prevents them from going to competitors with better financial assistance.

The Nonprofit Hospital That Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency and Relentlessly Sues the Poor

Nonprofit hospitals pay virtually no local, state or federal income tax. In return, they provide community benefits, including charity care to low-income patients. In Memphis, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has brought 8,300 lawsuits for unpaid medical bills in just five years.

After Serious 911 Mishaps, Rhode Island Will Now Pay for Better Training

Lagging rates of cardiac arrest survival and bystander CPR in Rhode Island could soon improve if lawmakers approve a budget allocating $220,000 to strengthen 911 call taker training.

One Cardiac Arrest. Four 911 Callers. And a Tragic Outcome.

Rhode Island’s 911 operators are unprepared to handle cardiac arrest calls, and Rena Fleury, 45, lost her life.

Citing “Safety Concerns,” FDA Cautions National Marketer of Unproven Stem Cell Treatments

This month, we reported R3 Stem Cell was promoting unapproved birth tissue products for a wide range of diseases. This week, the FDA put the company on notice.

Senators Call for Disclosure of Perks and Fees Paid to Health Benefits Brokers

A ProPublica story in February documented the hidden cash and gifts health insurers pay to influence independent brokers. In new proposed legislation, lawmakers say such fees should be revealed to employers.

Blistering Report Details Serious Safety Lapses at St. Luke’s in Houston

Patients received medications that weren’t ordered by doctors; objects were mistakenly left in patients after surgery; and ultrasound probes were reused without being property disinfected, government inspectors found. The hospital says it is fixing the problems.

The Birth-Tissue Profiteers

How well-meaning donations end up fueling an unproven, virtually unregulated $2 billion stem cell industry.

We’re Investigating How Insurance Gaps Endanger Mothers. This Is Why.

Women are getting kicked off Medicaid quickly after giving birth or aren’t qualifying for care to begin with.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Leaders Violated Conflict-of-Interest Rules, Report Finds

A policy review follows months of turmoil at the cancer center, which pledged an overhaul, including new rules on public disclosure and limits on outside profits.

The University of Illinois Withheld Public Records for Months. Guess What They Showed?

After we obtained the documents, they led to another story about the scandal surrounding psychiatric research at the university’s Chicago campus.

University of Illinois at Chicago Missed Warning Signs of Research Going Awry, Letters Show

UIC has played down its shortcomings in overseeing the work of a prominent child psychiatrist, but newly obtained documents show that the school acknowledged its lapses to federal officials.

Looking at Nursing Homes? See Which Ones Have Been Cited for Deficiencies

On the eve of a Senate nursing home hearing, we’ve updated Nursing Home Inspect. Compare nursing homes based on the deficiencies cited by regulators in the past three years. You can also search over 60,000 nursing home inspection reports to look for trends or patterns.

See How Your Doctor or Provider’s Prescribing Patterns Compare

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 over 460,000 doctors and other providers who wrote over 50 prescriptions in Part D in 2016.

I’m a Journalist. Apparently, I’m Also One of America’s “Top Doctors.”

Companies cash in by calling physicians “Super Doctor,” “Best Doctor” or “Top Doctor” and then selling them opportunities to boast about the honor. Experts call the accolades a “scam.” Giving me one highlights the absurdity.

Numerous Mistakes Led to Fatal Blood Transfusion at St. Luke’s in Houston, Report Finds

Hospital leaders released the scathing government inspection report on Tuesday, along with a plan to correct significant lapses in patient care. The changes follow a yearlong investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle.

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

As OxyContin addiction spurred a national nightmare, a member of the family that has reaped billions of dollars from the painkiller boasted that sales exceeded his “fondest dreams,” according to a secret court document obtained by ProPublica.

What You Should Know About Richard Sackler’s Long-Sought Deposition

A guide to the only time a member of the Sackler family has testified under oath about the marketing of OxyContin.

Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose

The insurance industry gives lucrative commissions and bonuses — from six-figure payouts to a chance to bat against Mariano Rivera — to the independent brokers who advise employers. Critics call the payments a “classic conflict of interest” that drive up costs.

A “Bittersweet” Moment: Court Says VA Was Wrong in Denying Vietnam Veterans Benefits

We wrote about the struggle of the “Blue Water” Navy veterans in 2015 and 2016, and after a court decision in their favor this week, we hear what this fight has meant to them.

OxyContin Maker Explored Expansion Into “Attractive” Anti-Addiction Market

Secret portions of a lawsuit allege that Purdue Pharma, controlled by the Sackler family, considered capitalizing on the addiction treatment boom — while going to extreme lengths to boost sales of its controversial opioid.

Two New Lawsuits Allege Surgical Errors During Heart Transplants at St. Luke’s in Houston

In one case, a patient claims a surgeon sewed a major vein closed, causing blood to back up in his head. In the other, a patient alleges that the same surgeon sewed through his colon, filling his abdomen with feces. The lawsuits follow a yearlong investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle.

Do You Know Someone Struggling With Video Gambling? ​Help Us Understand Video Slot and Poker Addiction in Illinois.

More than 30,000 video gambling machines are scattered across Illinois, and gambling addiction appears to be on the rise.

St. Luke’s in Houston Replaces Its President, Other Top Leaders After Series of Care Lapses, Recent Deadly Error

The sudden removal of the three executives follows a yearlong investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle into widespread problems at the hospital, including deaths in its heart transplant program.

Top Cancer Doctor, Forced Out Over Ties to Drug Makers, Joins Their Ranks

AstraZeneca has hired Dr. José Baselga, the former chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering, to lead its cancer research unit.

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Season of Turmoil

One of the nation’s top cancer hospitals has grappled with how to bring breakthrough treatments to market while remaining true to its mission.

When the Calendar Requires the Release of Insanity Defendants in Oregon, Harm Often Follows

Those freed without ongoing supervision and care because of a state time limit commit crimes at twice the rate as a smaller group freed because the Psychiatric Security Review Board specifically concluded they would not be a danger if on their own, according to a Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica analysis.

An Unsigned Letter Alleged Mistakes During Heart Transplants at St. Luke’s. Now a Widow Is Suing.

David Kveton died a week after receiving a new heart at the Houston hospital in 2017, and his story was featured in a ProPublica and Houston Chronicle investigation. A new lawsuit alleges a series of medical errors.

Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Will Remain Open for Now

Lawyers for Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital had asked a judge for an order so it wouldn’t immediately lose federal funding and have to close.

Lawsuit Targets Illinois’ Child Welfare Agency Over Children Languishing in Psychiatric Hospitals

The suit against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, filed on behalf of hundreds of children, claims holding them after doctors clear them for release compounds their trauma. “I felt trapped,” one teen said.

“Landmark” Maternal Health Legislation Clears Major Hurdle

In the wake of the ProPublica and NPR series “Lost Mothers,” the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill to fund state committees to review and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers.

Illinois Regulators Are Investigating a Psychiatrist Whose Research With Children Was Marred by Misconduct

A former University of Illinois at Chicago researcher is at the center of a state medical licensing and disciplinary board inquiry.

Prominent Doctors Aren’t Disclosing Their Industry Ties in Medical Journal Studies. And Journals Are Doing Little to Enforce Their Rules

The dean of Yale’s medical school, the incoming president of a prominent cancer group and the head of a Texas cancer center are among leading medical figures who have not accurately disclosed their relationships with drug companies.

Federal Judge Puts Independent Review of Troubled Psychiatric Hospital on Hold

With Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital set to lose government funding, and children in state care no longer there, judge concludes investigation unnecessary.

A Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Will Lose Federal Funding Over Safety and Abuse Issues Involving Children in State Care

At the same time, a federal judge said he will appoint a monitor to oversee the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. “The stakes cannot be higher,” the judge said.

As St. Luke’s Heart Program Faltered, Deaths After Liver and Lung Transplants Also Ticked Upward

Some patients and family members who came to the Houston hospital for liver and lung transplants have complained about the quality of care provided. A St. Luke’s spokeswoman says the transplant programs still meet national benchmarks and argues against focusing on outcomes from a single calendar year.

You Snooze, You Lose: Insurers Make The Old Adage Literally True

Millions of sleep apnea patients rely on CPAP breathing machines to get a good night’s rest. Health insurers use a variety of tactics, including surveillance, to make patients bear the costs. Experts say it’s part of the insurance industry playbook.

Your Medical Devices Are Not Keeping Your Health Data to Themselves

CPAP units, heart monitors, blood glucose meters and lifestyle apps generate information that can be used in ways patients don’t necessarily expect. It can be sold for advertising or even shared with insurers, who may use it to deny reimbursement.

9-Year-Old Alleges Staff Member at Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Choked and Restrained Her

The report brings the number of investigations by Illinois’ child welfare agency into allegations of abuse or neglect at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital to 19 since January.

Oregon Officials Call for Changes of Laws on Criminally Insane

The state’s attorney general said the rate of recidivism among defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity is “too high,” and key lawmakers said they plan to rewrite the state’s laws after an analysis by the Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica.

ACLU of Illinois Demands Removal of Children in DCFS Care From Troubled Chicago Hospital

More allegations of sexual abuse at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, already under government scrutiny, have surfaced.

Outside Review Faults Orlando Fire Department Policies and Mistakes in Pulse Shooting Response

Outdated policies, a lack of communication and failures in leadership hampered the operations on the night of the nightclub attack in 2016. It confirms what WMFE and ProPublica reported in September.

Chicago City Council Members Seek Hearing on Psychiatric Hospital

Aldermen ask for hearing to address allegations of sexual and physical abuse at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.

What Oregon Officials Knew and When They Knew It

Members of the Psychiatric Security Review Board have said it is not their duty to track what happens to people they set free. But in private, board members and staff pushed to study recidivism and found high rates among people the board frees.

Oregon Board Says Those Found Criminally Insane Rarely Commit New Crimes. The Numbers Say Otherwise.

The Psychiatric Security Review Board questioned how many people it discharged from state custody returned to crime. But it did not share its findings or change policies even as former clients killed or raped.

Illinois DCFS Agrees to Outside Inquiry at Psychiatric Hospital Where Children Have Reported Abuse

Under mounting pressure, the state child welfare agency agreed to a broad investigation, but the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocates said they will remain vigilant.

Illinois Child Welfare Agency Agrees to Stop Sending Children to Psychiatric Hospital Where Children Reported Abuse but Balks at Full Investigation

The Department of Children and Family Services’ inspector general and the American Civil Liberties Union say a limited investigation doesn’t go far enough.

Reporting on the Layers of Potential Harm for Children in Psychiatric Hospitals

It’s a systemic problem involving the agency charged with caring for those children.

Lawmakers Call for Independent Inquiry at Psychiatric Hospital After ProPublica Illinois Report on Abuse of Children

One legislator said she was “disgusted” by the revelations and said the children “deserve to be safe.”

The VA Shadow Rulers’ Signature Program Is “Trending Towards Red”

A $10 billion technology upgrade championed by Jared Kushner and the Mar-a-Lago trio is at risk of failing the VA’s 7 million patients.

Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Is Under Fire Over Reports Alleging Abuse of Children

Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital is under federal and state investigation over reports that detail sexual assaults and physical abuse of children, including some who were cleared for release but remained hospitalized because child welfare officials couldn’t find more appropriate homes.

Federal Inspectors Cite St. Luke’s in Houston for Problems in a Heart Transplant

Defibrillator paddles did not work during a patient’s heart transplant in January, and a backup set was not nearby. The transplant ultimately failed, and the patient died two months later. His case was featured in a May article.

What We Learned From Letting a Mother and Her Son Tell Their Own Story

We were moved by their words and honesty. We hope you are, too.

“We Will Keep on Fighting for Him.”

After her 10-year-old was accepted into a clinical drug trial for bipolar disorder, a mother chronicled her family’s experiences. Here is their journey, in their own words.

Sloan Kettering Cancer Researchers Correct the Record by Revealing Company Ties

The hospital’s chief medical officer resigned last month after failing to disclose company ties in medical journals. Now, Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers, including chief executive Dr. Craig B. Thompson, are updating their own conflict-of-interest disclosures.

“They’ve Got to Execute You”: St. Luke’s Doctor Faces Discipline After Raising Patient Care Concerns

A Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center physician alleges in a lawsuit that hospital officials retaliated against him for expressing concerns about ICU care. The Houston hospital has denied the allegation in court filings.

In Montana, a Tough Negotiator Proved Employers Don’t Have to Pay So Much for Health Care

With its employee health plan in financial crisis, Montana hired a former insurance insider who pushed back against industry players with vested interests in keeping costs high. She proved, essentially, that bargaining down health care prices works.

Cancer Center’s Board Chairman Faults Top Doctor, Saying He “Crossed Lines”

The executive told Memorial Sloan Kettering staff that the hospital did not do enough to limit the industry conflicts of its chief medical officer, who has resigned.

Facing Crisis, Sloan Kettering Tells Exec to Hand Over Profits From Biotech

A vice president at Memorial Sloan Kettering received a stake of nearly $1.4 million in a biotech company for representing the hospital on its board. He will give back his stake as the cancer center grapples with questions about conflicts of interest.

The Child Abuse Contrarian

Michael Holick, a renowned scientist turned expert witness, relies on his own controversial theory to help alleged abusers avoid prison and regain custody of the babies they were accused of harming.

Cancer Center Switches Focus on Fundraising as Problems Mount

The change highlights the challenges facing Memorial Sloan Kettering, one of the nation’s most prestigious cancer centers, amid a widening crisis.

Trump Administration Proposes Weakening Rules Governing Organ Transplant Centers

The revised rules, proposed this week as part of the agency’s efforts to reduce “burdensome” federal regulations, would no longer penalize hospitals if too many of their patients die following transplants. St. Luke’s in Houston recently lost its Medicare funding for heart transplants for that very reason.

Sloan Kettering’s Cozy Deal With Start-Up Ignites a New Uproar

A for-profit venture with exclusive rights to use the cancer center’s vast archive of tissue slides has generated concerns among pathologists at the hospital, as well as experts in nonprofit law and corporate governance.

Black Patients Miss Out On Promising Cancer Drugs

A ProPublica analysis found that black people and Native Americans are under-represented in clinical trials of new drugs, even when the treatment is aimed at a type of cancer that disproportionately affects them.

A Cancer Patient’s Guide to Clinical Trials

If you’re considering whether to enroll in a trial of an experimental drug, here’s what you need to know.

How We Compared Clinical Trial and Cancer Incidence Data

An in-depth look at newly approved cancer drugs, who participates in their clinical trials and who is affected by those cancers.

Top Official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Resigns After Failing to Disclose Industry Ties

Dr. José Baselga, the hospital’s chief medical officer, stepped down days after a report by ProPublica and the New York Times that he failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from the health care and drug industry in research articles.

Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Orders Staff to “Do a Better Job” of Disclosing Industry Ties

The move comes after ProPublica and The New York Times reported that one of its top executives failed to report payments from drug and health care companies in dozens of medical journal articles.

Top Cancer Researcher Fails to Disclose Corporate Financial Ties in Major Research Journals

A senior official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has received millions of dollars in payments from companies that are involved in medical research. His omissions expose how weakly conflict-of-interest rules are enforced by journals.

Heart Surgery “Legend” a Factor in Transplant Deaths, a St. Luke’s Colleague Told Inspector

Notes released by a federal agency indicate that one of the hospital’s top heart transplant doctors spoke about “a retiring surgeon” who “wouldn’t stop performing transplants” in explaining a rash of patient deaths. Only Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier matches that description.

Prominent Houston Judge Quits St. Luke’s Board After Heart Transplant Troubles Revealed

Carolyn Dineen King, a senior U.S. Circuit Court judge, resigned from the St. Luke’s board on May 30, two weeks after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle detailed deaths and complications in the famed heart program.

St. Luke’s Heart Transplant Program to Lose Medicare Funding Today

The action is a stunning blow for a historic program that has performed among the most heart transplants in the nation.

Follow ProPublica

Latest Stories from ProPublica