Congress established The National Practitioners Database (NPDB) in 1986 ‘to improve health care quality, protect the public and reduce health care fraud’. Since September 1990, state licensing boards, hospitals, and other health care entities, including professional societies, have been required to report certain adverse licensing and disciplinary actions taken against individual doctors.
- All reports are confidential and patients who proactively seek information about potential care providers are unable to access the NPDB for helpful data.
- Hospitals are mandated by federal law to query the NPDB every two years and when they hire a doctor. However, half of all hospitals have made zero reports to the NPDB in the last 20 years.
However, loopholes and disincentives lead to low levels of utilization. For example, even doctors can’t get info from NPDB.
Despite all of theses issues, Congress has not taken decisive action on patient harm in more than three decades.
It should come as no surprise that the system is failing patients of color at greater rates. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, hospital staff are more likely to report patient safety events for white patients than they are for patients of color.
The National Academy of Medicine also reports that with all other variables accounted for, racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to receive lower quality of care. Black patients are less likely to even receive the type of care as their white counterparts.