In an article co-published on ProPublica and the Op-Ed Page of the Los Angeles Times, Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein illuminate the problems surrounding doctors and their prescription habits. After they get out of medical school, doctors are often unable to stay on top of everything happening in the world of prescription drug research and development. They may be out of touch with current prescription trends, or may be requiring their patients to purchase more costly brand names when generics are available.
While the authors were unable to get hard data on doctors’ complete prescribing habits (despite being collected and sold by pharmacies), they were able to get records for prescriptions written for Medicare Part-D patients. These records were compiled into an online database, accessible here. The records do not reveal whether a doctor is doing something improper, but they can provide useful information to enable better informed decisions when choosing doctors.
An upsetting trend was also discovered: among the top prescribers of the most-abused painkillers, the authors found many who had been charged with crimes, convicted, disciplined by their state medical boards or terminated from state Medicaid programs for the poor. But nearly all remained eligible to prescribe to Medicare patients.
The article can be found at ProPublica.