Following ‘disturbing’ findings, journalists increase transparency of physicians’ drug prescription practices
For the typical patient, understanding doctors’ prescription practices can be difficult. After medical school, physicians are less likely to keep up to date on the latest studies and drugs, and their prescription practices are rarely monitored.
For drug makers, however, this information is easier to come by, as they spend millions acuqiring prescription records from the companies that buy them from pharmacies (a purchasing opportunity denied the investigative journalists working on this op-ed.)
The ProPublica journalists were eventually able to access prescribing data from Medicare following a long and complex Freedom of Information Act request. The results, which they describe as "disturbing," suggest that hundreds of physicians around the county were prescribing large quantities of unnecessary or dangerous drugs, and Medicare has done little-to-nothing about it.
The journalists have taken this data and created an online database that allows users to compare prescribing patterns between physicians, and have issued a call to action to physicians to view this database, to become more transparent about their prescribing practices and to hold one another accountable for their handling of prescriptions.
The searchable database is available at http://projects.propublica.org/checkup/.