Federal Malpractice Database Incomplete, Reports Show

Federal Malpractice Database Incomplete, Reports Show

Federal investigators have revealed that Federal health agencies repeatedly failed to report cases of medical malpractice.  The reports are meant to act as collected databases of doctors around the country who have committed malpractice so that consumers can do research before choosing a healthcare provider.

Hospitals, healthcare plans, and other employers have access to the database that they often check before doing any hiring of physicians.  The database, officially called the National Practitioner Data Bank, was part of a malpractice law passed in 1986.  Since 1990 federal health agencies were required to report cases within 30 days as well.

The Department of Health and Human Services has failed to report some 474 cases of malpractice since 1997, the new investigation reveals.  The failure to report such medical malpractice cases is worrisome to many in the government and medical field who see it as a sign that the database is incomplete.

Betty Duke, administrator of the health services agency, has reportedly stated that changes need to be made in order to comply with the malpractice law.  There are several instances of failure to report malpractice that the federal agency says could not have been prevented due to lost data, incomplete files, or other administrative failures.

The database is important in compiling national statistics that are then used in making legal decisions and even laws.  State medical boards also are reliant on information in the database to make medical changes or to look into alleged malpractice cases and histories.

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