Groups Push to Make Doctors’ Performance Records Public Again
Journalism and patient advocacy organizations are fighting against a recent decision by the Obama administration to shut down public access to an online database of doctor malpractice and disciplinary records.
The National Practitioner Data Bank has long been a resource for journalists, researchers and patient advocates working to expose dangerous trends in medical practices. The database never identified physicians by name — that is prohibited by law — but enterprising researchers and journalists have been able to combine the information they gleaned there with other records to report on specific physicians.
The Health Resources and Services Administration seems to believe researchers’ ingenuity and resourcefulness in using the system was reason enough to shut down the once-public information, saying, “It is important to understand that the law that created the National Practitioner Data Bank requires that information about individual practitioners [doctors, nurses, etc.] must remain confidential.”
In effect the agency seems to be saying it’s OK for the public to know about malpractice in a general, fuzzy way, but not in any way that would be of use to an individual in making medical choices. –BF
Wait, before you go…
Los Angeles Times:
Most recently, the Kansas City Star published a story on Sept. 4 about physicians with long histories of alleged malpractice who had not been disciplined by the Kansas or Missouri medical boards.
That prompted HRSA to threaten the reporter with a fine and take down the database.
“It is important to understand that the law that created the National Practitioner Data Bank requires that information about individual practitioners [doctors, nurses, etc.] must remain confidential,” said HRSA spokesman Martin Kramer.
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig