May 23, 2022

Access to Information: "Public Database That Tracks Physicians’ Malpractice Records Should Be Restored"

Are library groups planning to weigh in on the dbase being taken offline?

From Public Citizen:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should restore public access to an online database that anonymously tracks physicians’ records of malpractice, medical errors and medical discipline, Public Citizen said in a letter sent today [9/13/2011] to the agency.

For more than 15 years, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), housed within HHS, has made available the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) Public Use Data File – the only comprehensive national source for reliable data on medical malpractice and other matters reported to the NPDB. The public use file, which is updated quarterly, doesn’t contain physician names or even exact malpractice payment amounts, dates of payments or actions, practitioner ages or years of graduation. Rather, all these variables are provided only in broad ranges in the system.

The database is used widely by researchers, scholars, policymakers, journalists and the like. Public Citizen has used it to analyze trends in malpractice payments, to identify and report to HRSA potential compliance problems with reporting to the NPDB, and to identify state medical boards that failed to discipline physicians that had been disciplined by hospitals for serious infractions, such as being an “immediate threat” to health or safety of patients.

But earlier this month, the public database was taken down.

See Also: “Government Restricts Public Access to Malpractice Data” (via PLoS)

See Also: “Withdrawal of Database on Doctors Is Protested” (via NY Times)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.