The enactment of The Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 by the federal government led to the creation of the National Practitioner Data Bank, or NPDB, for the reporting of adverse actions, including license discipline, which can be accessed by government and private health care organizations. The inclusion of inaccurate information in the NPDB can severely damage the career of a health care provider. However, remedies are available to rectify NPDB reporting errors.
The first step, when misinformation has appeared in a data bank entry, is to obtain a report. Every health care practitioner, such as a physician or nurse, can quickly and cheaply get a copy of their own data bank report at the NPDB website, http://www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov. The information should be compared against the any original adverse action, such as a Board order, for accuracy.
If the data bank entry is incorrect, the person who is the subject of the entry must contact the reporting agency to ask that the entry be modified or retracted. If a reporting agency becomes aware of an error, by law it must correct the data bank entry. If the report should not have been made at all, the reporting organization may void, or delete, the entry.
In addition to seeking a correction from the entity that made the entry into the data bank, the subject of the report may submit a subject statement to be included with the data bank entry. Although sometimes this is the only avenue available to do damage control, the subject statement may do little to address confusion, misinterpretation or unfairness resulting from the data bank report. Also, it should be apparent that a caustic response may do more harm than good when the objective is to reassure the organizations that rely upon the data bank information. The subject statement may be up to 2,000 characters long.
The final step in the dispute process is to ask the Health and Human Services Secretary to review the report for accuracy. If the Secretary of HHS deems the report to be inaccurate, the Secretary may order the entry to be corrected or voided. It is important to note that the Secretary will not examine the merits of the underlying action to determine if it was warranted or just.
The absolute best way to avoid an entry on the NPDB is to avoid the adverse action itself. Furthermore, careful consideration of the reporting rules for the NPDB can be used to sometimes reach a resolution that does not have be reported by law.