Here, we share useful, timely information for you and your fellow residents about the NPDB, the confidential information clearinghouse created by Congress in 1986; obtaining an NPDB self-query, reviewing and responding to a report; and more.
What is the NPDB?
As stated on its website, the NPDB was founded to improve healthcare quality, protect the public, and reduce healthcare fraud and abuse in the United States. It is a federal web-based repository of reports that contain information on adverse actions associated with physicians and other healthcare practitioners, medical malpractice payments, and healthcare-related judgments or convictions. As of May 2017, the NPDB houses 1.3 million reports.
Running a report provides a way for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to see if a clinician has any negative feedback or “dings” on his or her license(s). If, for instance, a provider was terminated from a facility, has malpractice problems, or has issues from a licensing standpoint, this information will appear on that report.
Owing to the NPDB, practitioners who have been named in a report by, say, a healthcare entity or state agency are unable to move to different states to practice without disclosure or discovery of previous damaging performance. Practitioners and organizations identified in a report are granted access to their own information, which is not available to the public.
How can I find out if I have been named in a report?
You can place a self-query order, which is a search of your information in the NPDB database. The cost of a self-query is $4 as of this writing in July 2018. After completing the required steps on the NPDB website and agreeing to the terms in the Rules of Behavior and Subscriber Agreement, those who order a self-query receive their results in both an online response and a sealed letter via regular mail.
Every practitioner has a report, even right out of residency, though it may not contain anything detrimental. Medical staffing offices (MSOs) and other entities query for reports on practitioners during their licensing, credentialing, and hiring processes. Residents who obtain theirs before they complete training will probably find it helpful just to see what a report looks like.
According to the NPDB website, practitioners will receive a notification letter when an entity submits a report about them. It will contain the report number as well as a password, which is required to view the report.
How often should I do a self-query?
Although you will be notified when a reporting organization names you in a report, you may want to place a self-query order every so often to ensure you are recognized in good standing professionally, particularly as the cost to conduct one is quite reasonable.
It is useful to have your report before seeking a permanent position. Facility MSOs are going to run them, so you want to ensure the information in your NPDB report is accurate, correctly reflecting your experience.
Can I dispute a report?
Yes. In fact, as stated by the NPDB, there are a few things you can do if you are not in agreement with information provided in a report:
- Get in touch with the entity that filed it. While a report can be edited only by the organization that submitted it, you can contact them in hopes of resolving your dispute and having any misinformation corrected or modified.
- Give your perspective by adding a subject statement. At any time, you can write a statement providing additional information. It will be sent to all entities that received the report and included with all future queries.
- Visit the NPDB site to place the report into Dispute Status. It will become part of the report, and the reporting entity and any queriers from the past three years will be notified.
- Elevate to Dispute Resolution. You can do this if 60 days have passed from the time you placed the report into Dispute Status and contacted the reporting entity. Dispute Resolution will address only the factual accuracy of the report or whether it was presented in keeping with NPDB regulations.