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Timeline: NPDB public use file removed from website

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08/26/2011

HRSA threatens reporter

A letter from Cynthia Grubbs, director of the division of Practitioner Data Banks, to Kansas City Star reporter Alan Bavley threatens him with financial penalties if he printed a story based on confidential information from the National Practitioner Data Bank.

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09/01/2011

HRSA takes data offline

The Public Use File of the National Practitioner Data Bank is removed from a public website.

 

09/04/2011

Kansas City Star publishes article

Despite the letter from HRSA, the newspaper runs Bavley's investigation of a local neurosurgeon and the lack of action against doctors with multiple malpractice payouts.

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09/15/2011

Journalism groups protest

The Association of Health Care Journalists, joined by the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors, send a letter to the Obama administration protesting its decision to pull offline a public database of physician discipline and malpractice payments.

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09/16/2011

IRE puts public use file online

Investigative Reporters and Editors, working with the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists, posted the most recent public use file on its website, available to download for free.

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09/21/2011

Journalists send letters to Congress

Six journalism groups, representing 15,000 members, send letters to key members of Congress requesting their help in restoring access to a public version of the National Practitioner Data Bank.

 

09/21/2011

AHCJ compiles stories using NPDB

Examples of how reporters have used NPDB's public use file to expose gaps in oversight of doctors

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09/21/2011

HRSA declines to restore data

In letters to the Association of Health Care Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists, HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield said her agency regretted having to remove the Public Use File from its website and hopes to bring it back in some form "as quickly as is possible." She did not provide a date.

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09/22/2011

23 academics & researchers join protest

Twenty-three academics and researchers sent a letter to HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, condemning the decision to remove the Public Use File of the National Practitioner Data Bank.

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09/28/2011

Journalists turn to Sebelius

The Association of Health Care Journalists and five other journalism groups appealed to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to intervene in the dispute over the Public Use File of the National Practitioner Data Bank and restore access to this important data tool.

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10/02/2011

Ex-NPDB official: HRSA is wrong

Robert Oshel, who created the Public Use File in the mid-1990s and managed it until his retirement in 2008, said in a statement released to the Association of Health Care Journalists that HRSA is "erroneously interpreting the law" governing the data bank.

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10/04/2011

Statement sent to Sebelius, Wakefield

The six journalism organizations forward the statement by Robert Oshel, to HHS Sec. Sebelius and HRSA Administrator Wakefield, accompanied by a letter again asking them to restore access to the file.

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10/07/2011

Sen. Grassley criticizes HRSA's actions

Sen. Charles Grassley sends a letter to HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, saying that “Shutting down public access to the data bank undermines the critical mission of identifying inefficiencies within our health care system – particularly at the expense of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.” He also wrote, “A journalist’s shoe-leather reporting is no justification for such threats or for HRSA to shut down public access to information that Congress intended to be public.”

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10/07/2011

"On The Media" covers NPDB controversy

Public radio's “On The Media” show featured AHCJ President Charles Ornstein discussing the public use file of the National Practitioner Data Bank.

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10/13/2011

Conference call with HRSA officials about future of NPDB Public Use File

Participate in a call with HRSA officials on Oct. 13, 1-2 p.m. ET. Register in advance.

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11/03/2011

Grassley blasts HRSA

Senator says HRSA made a hasty decision to remove the file from its website based on complaints from one doctor without doing independent research.

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11/09/2011

HRSA restores data to website – with caveats

HRSA republished the public version of the National Practitioner Data Bank, following pressure from journalism groups, researchers and members of Congress. However, users will have to agree to certain restrictions that were not in place before and could potentially impede reporting on physician oversight.

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11/10/2011

Journalism groups send protest to Sebelius

In a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, seven groups said the new restrictions “are ill-advised, unenforceable and probably unconstitutional. Restricting how reporters use public data is an attempt at prior restraint.”