We’ve all heard the phrase, “Knowledge is power.” It’s meaning is pretty straightforward. The more information we have, the better we are able to make decisions. This is true in almost every aspect of our lives, but there are some decisions that we make that are more important than others. One of the most important decisions that we make is our choice of health care providers. When we choose the physicians who are going to provide us with essential medical care, we want to know that they are educated, experienced, talented and trustworthy, but that is a hard thing to determine from a simple meeting, or even from word-of-mouth referrals or reviews online. That is one of the reasons that the National Practitioner Data Bank is so important.
The National Practitioner Data Bank gathers and holds reports about health care practitioners, providers and suppliers. Though these reports are not available to the members of the general public, it is available to hospitals, health care entities, professional societies, and state, federal and certifying authorities. The public trusts these organizations to use the National Practitioner Data Bank to search for medical malpractice payments, criminal convictions and other pieces of information that can be used to better inform them so that they can keep the public safe.
There are three data points tracked within the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). They are:
- Adverse Action Reports (AARs) – These reports detail actions that have been taken against a practitioner or entity by state and federal licensing authorities, hospitals and other organizations regarding licensure certification or clinical privileges
- Medical Malpractice Payment Reports (MMPRs) – These reports detail the payments that a practitioner or entity has been required to make in response to a written claim or judgment for medical malpractice
- Judgment or Conviction Reports (JOCRs) – These reports detail both civil judgments and criminal convictions coming from either federal or state court in relation to health care services provided by an individual or entity.
The NPDB repository includes over a million reports, and does so with the goal of preventing health care fraud and abuse and of protecting the public. Individual practitioners are also able to access their own records, and so can individuals who are suing them.
To get a sense of the value provided by the National Practitioner Data Bank, consider that every month over half a million requests for information are fulfilled. The NPDB is an important asset for organizations considering hiring a medical professional, for organizations determining whether a person should be licensed or credentialed and more. Professionals who object to the contents of a report about them have the opportunity to search their own information and to respond to it if they believe that information is incorrect or inaccurate.
For those considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital, the information on an individual practitioner can only be used against the organization, not the individual. For more information on how Bochetto & Lentz can use the information in the National Practitioner Data Bank to strengthen your case, contact us today.