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A federal watchdog agency issued a report in December finding flaws with the Congressional National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). General Accounting Office officials partially blamed the databank’s administering agency, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services. The report also was critical of hospitals, however, by not following instructions for the databank.
The NPDB consists of the following types of reports:
• medical malpractice — 79%;
• state licensure — 15%;
• clinical privilege restrictions — 5%;
• other — 1%.
The report, titled National Practitioner Data Bank: Major Improvements are Needed to Enhance Data Bank’s Reliability, included the following findings:
• malpractice reports constitute 80% of the information in the data bank;
• nearly all medical malpractice records reviewed in the data bank were incomplete (for a complete breakdown, see "Missing Information," below);
• about one-third of the reports that contained clinical restrictions taken against physicians held inaccurate information;
• patient names were included in violation of NPDB reporting instructions;
• the Health Resources and Services Administration has failed to collect information on nurses and other care providers as required by law — about 230,000 reports were primarily against physicians and dentists;
• almost half of malpractice payment reports were filed more than 30 days after they were due;
• 95% of malpractice payments did not notate whether the standard of patient care was considered when the claim was settled or adjudicated.
|The General Accounting Office (GAO) found in its analysis of the National Practitioner Data Bank that malpractice reports often are incomplete. Here, for example, is a breakdown of how frequent basic data were missing from the GAO sample of 250 reports:|
• Patient age, 134, 53.6%
• Patient gender, 108, 43.2%
• Patient type, 199, 79.6%
• Initial event, 68, 27.2%
• Subsequent event, 37, 14.8%
• Damages, 61, 24.4%
• Standard of care determination, 239, 95.6%
|Source: General Accounting Office.|