Monday, April 9, 2012 Data bank information needs careful interpretation

April 9, 2012.

How transparent should the National Practitioner Data Bank be?

Scenario: How transparent should the National Practitioner Data Bank be?
The National Practitioner Data Bank recently has been through a shutdown and restart. Some of the physician data can lead to mistaken conclusions. Some physicians worry about government reach into their practice matters and the media’s instinct to use any available data for a physician “gotcha” story.

In September 2011, the Dept. of Health and Human Services blocked access to the public use data file of the National Practitioner Data Bank, which contains information on malpractice payments and disciplinary actions of health care professionals. HHS’ action raised debate about whether such information should be kept from the public. Some medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, argue against release of data bank information on grounds of known inaccuracies and likely misinterpretation by the public. Patient advocacy groups, among others, stress that NPDB transparency is essential for advancing safety and quality.

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