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Resources: Data

National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File

The NPDB is a confidential system that compiles malpractice payouts, hospital discipline and regulatory sanctions against doctors and other health professionals. For years, HRSA has made a public version of it available without identifying information about the health providers.

The NPDB is a confidential system that compiles malpractice payouts, hospital discipline and regulatory sanctions against doctors and other health professionals. For years, HRSA has made a public version of it available without identifying information about the health providers.

In September 2011, the agency removed the file from its website. The government said it did so because reporters were able to link information in the data bank to specific doctors, and the law prohibits the public use file from identifying doctors. AHCJ and several other journalism organizations protested the action and appealed for restoration of the file.

In November, HRSA restored the file but with restrictions that prevent users from using the dataset alone or with other data to indentify individuals. Investigative Reporters and Editors, working with AHCJ and the Society of Professional Journalists, has posted the a version of the data that predates those restrictions for download, free to the public.

The data are posted for the entire U.S. in the original text format with documentation. IRE has also made available state-by-state Excel spreadsheet files.

“We applaud IRE for making this data available for free to the media, researchers and the public,” said Charles Ornstein, AHCJ’s president. “While the government has decided that this ‘public use file’ should no longer be public, our organizations believe that it continues to be a critical resource. I encourage reporters, even those who have never used it before, to look for stories within it now.”