Government Releases Massive Trove of Data on Doctors’ Prescribing Patterns - ProPublica
Among ProPublica’s findings:
Medicare had failed to use its own records to flag doctors who prescribed thousands of dangerous, inappropriate or unnecessary medications.
One Miami psychiatrist, for example, wrote 8,900 prescriptions in 2010 for powerful antipsychotics to patients older than 65, including many with dementia. A black-box warning on the drugs says they should not be used by such patients because it increases their risk of death. The doctor said he’d never been contacted by Medicare.
ProPublica also found that many of the top prescribers of the most abused painkillers had been charged with crimes, convicted, disciplined by their state medical boards or terminated from Medicaid. Nearly all remained eligible to prescribe in Medicare.
Medicare wasted hundreds of millions of dollars a year by failing to rein in doctors who routinely give patients pricey name-brand drugs when cheaper generic alternatives are available.
The top prescribers of some drugs received speaking payments from the companies that made them.