Federal Government Withdraws Public’s Access to National Medical Malpractice File

When it occurred on September 1, 2011, there was very little reporting on it. More than two weeks later, the NY Times is one of the few if only national media outlets to report on it. Yet, what happened that day has a profound effect on public safety, the quality of medical care patients receive and the public’s right to access information about physicians.
On September 1, 2011, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) removed the public’s access to the National Practitioner Data Bank. The public access file that was removed didn’t name physicians who’d been reported to their state medical boards because of alleged medical malpractice. It did however, serve as an informative source for the public and those interested in quality of care issues regarding how state medical boards deal with physicians who’ve been accused of medical errors and medical malpractice.
Jessica Wapner, a freelance writer whose works have appeared in the NY Times as well as Slate, wrote an informative piece on the controversy for her blog today. She gives the full history of the public use file as well as explores the various issues at stake. It’s well worth a read.
Regular readers of this blog will know where our firm stands on this and similar issues. In healthcare matters, information is key. When access to information regarding medical errors and medical malpractice is restricted, everyone suffers. This is not a good public policy move and should be reversed.