A Brief History of the National Practitioner Data Bank

A Brief History of the National Practitioner Data Bank

If you are a healthcare professional who has been reading these blogs over the past month or two, you will note there have been frequent mentions of the National Practitioner Data Bank, and the reasons why you never want any information about you, or your career, reported to this entity. You may be familiar with the Data Bank, or you may not, but what follows is a very short introduction to what it is and why it was instituted.

Going back to the 1980s, and even before that, concerns were expressed that “bad healthcare professionals” were being shuffled from place to place in order to remove them from institutions where they had caused problems and send them to other places, which would have no idea these individuals had previously been in trouble. For example, a hospital could quietly dismiss a physician who had engaged in a pattern of malpractice or disruptive behavior without creating any record of the defalcations which led to the dismissal. This would allow the doctor to simply move on to another hospital or another geographic area, where no one would have any knowledge of the previous misconduct.

In order to remedy this perceived problem, Congress enacted a statute providing for a national “clearing house” where information about healthcare professionals could be maintained and accessed by parties who were deemed to have a need for such information. Regulations were first promulgated in 1989, and the National Practitioner Data Bank was established. These regulations are now codified in Part 60 of Volume 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“C.F.R.”).

In a nutshell, every incident involving medical malpractice verdicts or settlements, hospital disciplinary actions, disciplinary actions by state licensing boards – basically any adverse outcome involving a healthcare professional – will be reported to the Data Bank. This information may be accessed by hospitals, potential employers, licensing boards, law enforcement, and others. Indeed, hospitals are required to run periodic queries to the Data Bank on all members of their medical staff.

Of course, adverse outcomes cannot always be prevented, but your best defense to having a reportable incident is to consult experienced healthcare attorneys as early in the process as possible. If you would like a consultation on this or any legal matter, do not hesitate to contact Scaringi Law at 717-657-7770.


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