HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration reposted the public-use file of its National Practitioner Data Bank with conditions.
Late News: Access to disciplined doc file restored with conditions
The data bank’s public-use file contains de-identified information on disciplinary actions against physicians and, in a statement posted on the data bank’s website, HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield touts this data as being available for statistical analysis and reports on malpractice trends. It had been removed from the website on Sept. 1 after a Kansas City Star reporter was able to ascertain the identity of a doctor by comparing data in the file with court records. Now, to gain access to the file, individuals will have to agree not to use the information in combination with other sources to identify individuals involved in disciplinary or legal proceedings. If the terms are violated, the individual will be required to “return, delete or otherwise permanently dispose of” the data.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has been crusading for the restoration of the file, said the compromise was unnecessary and unworkable. Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a member of the data bank’s executive committee and director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, called the move “a step in the right direction” but also that blocking access to reporters seeking to provide “the public with more information about doctors and pressing for reform of medical board and hospital discipline is unacceptable.”
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