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    Advocacy group aims to close malpractice loophole in NPDB

    The National Practitioner Data Base (NPDB) opened in 1990 with the notion of providing hospitals and other healthcare entities with records of malpractice payments and adverse actions against licensed healthcare practitioners. 

     

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    The problem is, a loophole exists that allows a physician to avoid being reported to the NPDB if a malpractice plaintiff agrees to dismiss the practitioner from a lawsuit or claim, leaving a hospital or other corporate entity as the sole defendant.

    The advocacy group Public Citizen is working to change this.

    Michael Carome, MD, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, notes NPDB rules are not consistent with the federal statute that established the NPDB and that this “corporate shield” loophole undermines the accountability of physicians and the safety of patients.

    “We think it’s a vitally important resource which allows state medical boards, hospitals and other healthcare organizations to learn about past history that may be problematic when they are going to license a physician,” he says. “The corporate shield loophole makes the NPDB’s information less complete, less reliable and less useful. When that information is incomplete, it undermines the purpose and utility of the data bank.”

     

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    In 2014, the group filed a citizen petition with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) advocating that the NPDB amend the current medical malpractice reporting regulations. Last month, it filed a suit in U.S. District Court, asking a federal judge to order HHS and the Health Resources and Services Administration to act.

    Next: “More and more people responsible for malpractice are not being reported"

    Keith Loria
    Keith Loria is a contributing writer to Medical Economics.

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