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Health Care

Series

A 911 Emergency

Rhode Island’s Deadly 911 Flaws

The $3 Million Research Breakdown

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Troubling Study

Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Crisis

Prominent Cancer Center Faces 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

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.

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.

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.

Trusted Health Sites Spread Myths About a Deadly Pregnancy Complication

From the Mayo Clinic to Harvard, sources don't always get the facts right about preeclampsia. Reached by ProPublica, some are making needed corrections.

Famed Houston Surgeon Updates Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures

ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle reported in May that Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier had often failed to disclose his payments from medical device makers in articles he authored. Since then, he’s amended his disclosures for three pieces in the New England Journal of Medicine.

For Most Common Heart Surgery, St. Luke’s Has Been Among the Nation’s Worst

A leading group of surgeons gave the Houston hospital poor marks for heart bypasses. Hospital officials acknowledge the low rating, but say outcomes have improved in the past year.

Steve Cohen Is Spending Millions to Help Veterans. Why Are People Angry?

The hedge fund billionaire’s efforts to assist veterans with PTSD have thrust him into the fight over privatizing the VA and led some people to question his motives.

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates

Without any public scrutiny, insurers and data brokers are predicting your health costs based on data about things like race, marital status, how much TV you watch, whether you pay your bills on time or even buy plus-size clothing.

Prominent Texas Surgeon Sues ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle

Bud Frazier, a pioneer in the development of artificial hearts, filed a libel suit alleging he was “falsely” portrayed in two articles exploring alleged lapses in research and ethical practices.

He Went In for a Heart Transplant. He Suffered Severe Brain Damage. Now His Family Is Suing St. Luke’s.

After a heart transplant in August 2016, Ernest “Chris” Keys can’t talk or walk. The Houston hospital is under pressure for the quality of its once-renowned heart program.

Documents Raise New Concerns About Lithium Study on Children

Prominent University of Illinois at Chicago psychiatrist enrolled her young sons as healthy control subjects in troubled study.

New Jersey to Suspend Prominent Psychologist for Failing to Protect Patient Privacy

The state began investigating Barry Helfmann after a 2015 article by ProPublica and the New York Times about debt collection lawsuits against his patients that included details of their mental health diagnoses and treatments.

Supporters of a Famed Houston Surgeon Have Alleged Inaccuracies in Our Investigation. Here’s Our Response

Several dozen people have authored letters defending Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier and criticizing an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle. We stand behind our story.

U.S. Senate Committee Proposes $50 Million to Prevent Mothers Dying in Childbirth

After years of Congressional inaction, legislators in both parties want to back efforts by states and hospitals to reduce the U.S. maternal mortality rate, the highest in the developed world.

Opioid Makers, Blamed for Overdose Epidemic, Cut Back on Marketing Payments to Doctors

As ProPublica updates Dollars for Docs, we found that drugmakers spent less money to market opioids to doctors in 2016 than in prior years. Studies have shown that payments to doctors by opioid makers are linked to more prescribing of the drugs.

We’ve Added 2016 Data to Dollars for Docs

Is your doctor taking money from drug or device companies? Check with our newly updated app.

FDA Repays Industry by Rushing Risky Drugs to Market

As pharma companies underwrite three-fourths of the FDA’s budget for scientific reviews, the agency is increasingly fast-tracking expensive drugs with significant side effects and unproven health benefits.

Federal Judge to Consider Independent Monitor for Illinois Child Welfare Agency

State officials have failed to deal with children stuck in psychiatric hospitals.

After Two-Week Review, St. Luke’s in Houston Reopens Its Heart Transplant Program

Officials said they found no “systemic issues” in the care of two patients who died last month, but that they are making staffing and policy changes to improve the program.

Illinois Lawmakers Demand Explanation on Children Stuck in Psychiatric Hospitals

A call for state welfare officials to appear at a public hearing follows our ProPublica Illinois investigation.

Patients Wait in Limbo as St. Luke’s Heart Transplant Program Reviews Its Problems

“I sort of feel like we’ve been left in the dark,” says one patient’s wife, who learned from a reporter — and not the Houston hospital — about the program’s temporary suspension. An expert says it will likely take much longer than 14 days to fix.

Where Is “Home” for Children in State Custody?

Many of us have distinct memories of our own childhood homes. That’s not the case for hundreds of children trapped in Illinois psychiatric hospitals.

Hundreds of Illinois Children Languish in Psychiatric Hospitals After They’re Cleared For Release

The Department of Children and Family Services struggles to find appropriate homes for young people with mental illness.

Every Day, a Child is Held Beyond Medical Necessity in Illinois

Hundreds of children and teens in state care are held each year in psychiatric hospitals for weeks or months at a time — even though they have been cleared to leave.

St. Luke’s to Suspend Heart Transplants After Recent Deaths

The move comes two weeks after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle reported on pervasive problems in the historic heart program.

Video: How More Midwives May Mean Healthier Mothers

When it comes to midwife use, the U.S. falls behind other affluent countries. A deeper look at history explains why.

Why Your Health Insurer Doesn’t Care About Your Big Bills

Patients may think their insurers are fighting on their behalf for the best prices. But saving patients money is often not their top priority. Just ask Michael Frank.

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