The nonprofit group Public Citizen has released a report showing that hospitals nationwide are taking advantage of loopholes to avoid reporting disciplined physicians to a national database. The full report is available here.
The law requires hospitals to report any physician whose admitting privileges have been revoked or restricted for more than 30 days to the National Practitioner Data Bank, but over the database’s 17 years of existence, almost half the nation’s hospitals haven’t reported a single patient. Initially, officials estimated the database would get around 5,000 submissions a year. Instead, it has averaged around 650.
The report says that hospitals avoid the reporting requirement by limiting suspensions to fewer than 30 days or by giving doctors a leave of absence instead of a suspension. Lax peer review is also contributing to under-reporting, as doctors are reluctant to “rat out” their peers.
The data is easy to break down on a state-by-state level, and folks such as the Miami Herald‘s John Dorscher, the Detroit Free Press‘s Patricia Anstett and the Contra Costa Times‘ Sandy Kleffman have already reported local versions of the story.