Established in 1986, the National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”) is a “repository of reports that contain information on medical malpractice payments and certain adverse actions related to health care practitioners, providers, and suppliers.” NPDB website. Under the NPDB, hospitals and other entities with peer review committees, health plans, and numerous others are required to report certain adverse actions to the centralized database. Reporting to the NPDB (or failing to report) has serious consequences to both mandatory report entities and practitioners that are reported. Entities that report improperly (or properly), may face lawsuits from reported practitioners. Conversely, reported practitioners who appear on the NPDB (properly or improperly) may have lasting career and reputational effects.
The NPDB Guidebook provides interpretation of NPDB requirements for mandatory report entities. On October 26, 2018, the Guidebook was updated for the first time since April 2015. While many of the October 2018 updates to the NPDB are editorial changes, there were also modifications made regarding what is considered a reportable surrender of privileges, as well as other reporting descriptions. These changes will likely lead to more reporting events.
These changes occurred predominately in Chapter E: Reports, Reporting Adverse Clinical Privileges Actions, with the addition of a new section entitled “Length of Restriction”. This section clarifies that, regardless of how a restriction order is written, if a professional review action affects the privileges of a practitioner in a negative way for longer than 30 days, it is reportable. This update appears to be a response to a 2017 federal court ruling that found that a proctoring restriction was not reportable because it was not clear that the restriction would take more than 30 days.