PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Ganske Fights For Dual Causes
Rep. Greg Ganske (R-Iowa), who has "a national reputation as a health care maverick" because of his support for patients' rights, now has set his sight on keeping the National Practitioner Data Bank closed to the public, the Des Moines Register reports. The data bank, which is maintained by the federal government, logs disciplinary actions and malpractice settlements against doctors and only allows access to hospitals, licensing boards and others in the health care industry. Some members of Congress and health care groups have argued that "the public has a right to know more about doctors than can be found in the records of state disciplinary boards." But Ganske, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, maintains that "malpractice information in the data bank could unfairly cast a black eye on good physicians" because the public often does not have the context, expertise or understanding of a particular case.
Slap At Patients' Rights?
On the other side, Michael Donio, project director for the Pennsylvania-based People's Medical Society, which provides health information and advocacy, said, "Let the consumer make the choice." He added that "doctors can't determine what is in patients' best interests because it conflicts with their own self-protection." The House Commerce Committee has discussed the data bank twice already, during which Commerce Chair Tom Bliley (R-Va.) has argued that "patients have a right to know whether their doctors have a history of malpractice payments." Ganske said that he questioned whether Bliley "is trying to smear patients' rights advocates." Bliley has not yet introduced data bank legislation and his aides denied that the hearings "were a slap at patients' rights" (Norman, 4/17).