Hospitals have dropped the ball when it comes to physician oversight, according to a new report by the Health Research Group of the consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen. Nearly half of all hospitals have not submitted a single doctors name to a federal database that has been collecting information on hospital disciplinary actions for more than 17 years, the report said.
In 1990, the National Practitioner Data Bank began collecting information on incidents where a doctors hospital privileges were revoked or restricted for more than 30 days because of issues of competency or conduct, the report said. But, as of December 2007, only 11,221 incidents have been reported, which is one-eighth of what the government estimated would be collected when the database was created under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986, the report said. According to Public Citizen, 2,845 out of 5,823 U.S. hospitals (49%) have never submitted a privilege sanction report.
In fact, Public Citizen cites one study that said hospitals have imposed shorter disciplinary periods in order to sidestep the reporting requirements.
To make hospitals more accountable to the public, Public Citizen recommends civil penalties on hospitals who fail to file reports, that CMS be given statutory authority to impose sanctions on hospitals that fail to perform peer review, and that the HHS inspector general investigate hospital peer review practices related to the granting and renewing of hospital admitting privileges.