Lisa Chedekel

Senior writer and co-founder of C-HIT, Lisa Chedekel is an award-winning investigative reporter who wrote for the Hartford Courant for 15 years, covering a wide range of beats, from politics to healthcare. In 1999, she was among a team of reporters awarded the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting. In 2002, she was among a handful of U.S. journalists who visited Saudi Arabia in the year after 9/11 to report on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. More recently, she co-authored a series on mental health in the military that won a George Polk Award, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, and was a 2007 finalist for the Pulitzer in Investigative Reporting. Before writing for The Courant, she was a staff writer and columnist for the New Haven Register. You can contact Lisa at chedekel at c-hit.org

Recent Stories

Highest Prescribers Of Cancer Drug Paid As Speakers

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Eight of the top 10 prescribers of a potent narcotic used for cancer pain were paid more than $870,000 in speaking fees by the drug maker in 2013 and 2014 -- indicating that Derby nurse Heather Alfonso was not the only high prescriber compensated by the company. Alfonso, an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who worked at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby, pleaded guilty last month to accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from 2013 to March 2015 from the drug company Insys Therapeutics, which has heavily marketed a painkiller called Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray approved only for cancer patients. Alfonso was paid to speak about Subsys at more than 70 “dinner programs,” but most of those programs were attended only by her and a sales representative for Insys, or by Alfonso’s colleagues and friends who had no authority to prescribe the drug, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Connecticut. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Meriden Family Sues Nurse For “Potentially Deadly” Prescribing

The family of a Meriden man who died in 2013 at age 56 is suing Derby nurse practitioner Heather Alfonso and the pain clinic where she worked, alleging that her rampant overprescribing of narcotics contributed to his death. Joseph Torchia’s wife and son claim in a lawsuit filed in Waterbury Superior Court that Alfonso, who was recently charged by federal prosecutors with accepting kickbacks from a drug company, prescribed “unlawfully high” doses of narcotics to Torchia for more than a year, ignoring signs that he was suffering from liver cirrhosis, gallbladder disease, internal bleeding and narcotics’ dependency. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Case Against Derby Nurse Involves Potent Painkiller

Federal charges against Derby nurse Heather Alfonso center on a powerful and addictive painkiller called Subsys, which has been heavily marketed by the Arizona-based manufacturer Insys Therapeutics, federal officials confirmed Wednesday. (more…) Continue Reading →

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High-Prescribing Nurse Charged With Accepting Drug Company Kickbacks

A Derby nurse practitioner identified as the state’s highest Medicare prescriber of potent narcotics has admitted taking kickbacks from a drug company in exchange for prescribing pain medication. Heather Alfonso, 42, of Middlebury, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S District Court in Hartford to receiving $83,000 in kickbacks from January 2013 until March 2015 from an unnamed pharmaceutical company that makes a drug used to treat cancer pain. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Handful Of High Prescribers Boost Medicare Spending, New Data Show

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Ten Connecticut prescribers, including a Derby nurse practitioner who is under investigation by the state, were responsible for more than 22 percent of the state’s Medicare spending on potent narcotics in 2013, new federal data show. More than 4,300 Connecticut clinicians, mostly physicians, wrote Medicare prescriptions for oxycodone, morphine and other Schedule II drugs, which have a high potential for abuse and addiction, at a total cost of $40 million. But a handful of those providers accounted for the largest share of those prescriptions, an analysis of the data show. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Binge, Heavy Drinking Rates Rise In State, Especially For Women

Drinking by County

Rates of heavy drinking in Connecticut spiked 21.3 percent between 2005 and 2012, while binge-drinking rates rose nearly 14 percent, with the largest increases among women drinkers, a new report shows. The increases put Connecticut’s drinking rates above the national average, with survey data from some counties showing that more than one in five adults are binge drinkers -- defined as consuming more than four drinks a day for women and five for men on at least one occasion in the past 30 days. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Indicators Of Teen Depression, Earlier Suicides, On The Rise

While the number of youths in Connecticut who die by suicide has declined since 2007, the average age of the children who kill themselves has decreased from 17 to just over 14, and the percentage of youths who report self-injury or feelings of hopelessness has risen in recent years, according to a new report by the Office of the Child Advocate. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Reforms Planned To Reduce Restraints, Seclusion In Schools

Legislative changes and increased training of school staff could help to reduce the incidence of children being restrained and secluded in schools, a panel of state officials said Friday at a forum hosted by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Mental Health Is Main Cause Of Hospitalizations in CT, New Data Show

Yale-New Haven was among the hospitals reporting a large increase in patient hospitalizations for mental health disorders.

Mental disorders surpassed respiratory problems and all other ailments as the leading cause of hospitalization in Connecticut in 2012 for children ages 5 to 14, teenagers and younger adults, according to a new state health department report. The report shows that the number of days that patients with behavioral health problems were hospitalized surged 5.3 percent between 2011 and 2013, to nearly 260,000 patient days. Other categories of hospitalizations, including cardiac and cancer care, declined during that time. (more…) Continue Reading →

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High-Prescribing Nurse Surrenders Drug Licenses

A Derby nurse practitioner whose prolific prescribing of potent narcotics was the subject of a February story by C-HIT has surrendered her state and federal licenses to prescribe controlled substances and is the subject of an “open investigation” by the state health department, officials said Monday. Heather Alfonso, an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at the Comprehensive Pain & Headache Treatment Centers, LLC, in Derby, surrendered her controlled substance registration after a recent probe by the Drug Control Division of the Department of Consumer Protection, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed. (more…) Continue Reading →

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