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Database of Medical Malpractice Judgments Routinely Ignored by State Licensing Boards

By Jack H. FarnbauchJuly 10, 2018

The National Practitioner Data Bank -- the government-sponsored repository for records of medical malpractice judgments and certain other adverse actions -- has always been a boogeyman for physicians, a secretive list where you don't want your name to appear. In 2017, 30 state medical boards in the U.S. backgrounded a physician using the database fewer than 100 times, according to numbers from the Health Resources and Service Administration.

In 2017, 30 state medical boards in the U.S. backgrounded a physician using the database fewer than 100 times, according to numbers from the Health Resources and Service Administration. Thirteen state boards didn't even check it once. The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana only ran two (2) searches the entire year! Congress created the National Practitioner Data Bank in 1986, saying it would improve healthcare quality and reduce fraud and abuse but clearly, states do not find it necessary to search for any serious medical malpractice incidents when renewing a doctor’s medical license. 

The database was designed as a central database for recording malpractice payments, state disciplinary actions, restrictions from health plans or hospitals and other limits on any healthcare professional -- physicians, nurses, dentists, physical therapists and others. The database now has more than 1.3 million records of "adverse actions" going back to 1990 and can easily be used to find past medical malpractice actions. As this blog has noted in previous entries, it is scary how hard it is for a doctor in the state of Indiana to lose their license to practice medicine. You as a patient should do your own research in looking through the National Practitioner Data Bank for your potential doctor’s past. 

You can read more here.