National Database of Health Care Providers Lacks Some Information
A federal database that lists disciplinary actions against health providers might lack data on thousands of providers who have been the subject of such actions, an investigation by the non-profit news organization ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times found, the Times reports.
The database includes information on doctors, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists and other licensed health professionals.Â It was first created 22 years ago but is scheduled to become available to hospitals on March 1.
In 1986, federal officials were concerned that many physicians who were accused of malpractice were moving to other states and continuing to practice. As a result, Congress called for the creation of a central database to track disciplinary actions. The following year, the database began covering all health care workers.
In 1999, the federal government began requiring that states file reports on all health professionals who had their licenses revoked or restricted.
However, several states have filed that information only occasionally or not at all and have faced no penalties for incomplete compliance, according to the Times.
Furthermore, in some states multiple boards oversee disciplinary actions for different types of providers. As a result, it is difficult to determine how much data is missing from the new database, the investigation found.
Mary Wakefield -- administrator of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees the database -- said the administration has initiated a "full and complete" review to determine the database's problems and determine how to fix them.
Wakefield added that the database still is scheduled to launch on March 1, but it will contain a warning that the data is incomplete.
According to the Times, the database will also gain data on about 280,000 nurses and other practitioners on March 1.
On Friday, Wakefield and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to the nation's governors requesting their assistance to fill the database's gaps.
The federal government publicly will list any state agencies that do not "report properly" beginning in the summer, the letter stated.In addition, Wakefield said HRSA would hold training sessions for state officials and conduct audits to ensure proper compliance (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 2/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.