PHYSICIAN DATA BANK: House Subcommittee Hears Testimony
Arguing in favor of making information on physician misconduct publicly available, victimized patients gave testimony before a House subcommittee yesterday, CongressDaily reports. New York dentist Liana Gedz, whose obstetrician carved his initials in her abdomen after delivering her infant, and New York police detective Anderson Smart, whose wife died following routine surgery, both argued in favor of making the federal National Practitioner Data Bank available to the public (Rovner, 3/1). "I truly believe we have a 'white wall of silence' -- hospitals protect doctors, doctors protect their peers, and in all of this, crucial information is getting lost," Gedz said. She added, "If the entire information would have been made available to the public through the NPDB, I don't think Dr. [Allan] Zarkin [her obstetrician] would have been able to practice medicine any longer." Smart told the committee that his wife's "tragic death was a direct result of her doctor's negligence during what should have be a simple, routine outpatient procedure." He added, "Had Lisa been given access to the National Practitioner Data Bank, she would be alive today" (Maier/Huiett, Newsday, 3/2). Despite the testimony, both Republicans and Democrats are wary of full disclosure of physician information, warning that because the data includes information on malpractice settlements regardless of whether negligence was found, the information could "unfairly tarnish" the reputations of some physicians. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who drafted legislation in 1986 calling for the data bank, said the law should be updated to reflect egregious physician misconduct. Wyden said, "There is no logical argument for keeping information about proven, flagrant cases of professional misconduct from the public" (CongressDaily, 3/1).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.