PRACTITIONER DATABASE: Bliley May Open Up Records
Suggesting a possible legislative push to release doctors' malpractice and disciplinary records, the Associated Press last week ran customized stories in major newspapers nationwide on the National Practitioners Data Bank, a database containing the medical practice histories of physicians nationwide. According to a House Commerce Committee aide, committee Chair Thomas Bliley (R-Va.) may release over the Internet the names of 200 doctors and dentists with the worst records. Bliley threatened similar action at a committee meeting earlier this year, arguing that it is "unconscionable that consumers have more comparative information about the used car they purchase or the snack foods they eat than the doctors in whose care they entrust their health well-being." The American Medical Association has lobbied against releasing the records, arguing that the data does not reflect the "competency or quality" of doctors (Pace, Associated Press, 6/30). Last November, AMA President Dr. Thomas Reardon suggested a possible political agenda behind Bliley's renewed interest in the issue -- the AMA's opposition to the GOP's version of the patients' bill of rights. He said, "If there is an attitude in Congress to punish organizations which disagree with what's going on in Congress, then that's sad" (American Health Line, 11/3). The Associated Press story ran in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Detroit News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, among other papers.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.