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NPDB Clarifies Why State Record Expungement is Not a Valid Reason to Void Data Bank Reports

The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) issued a news release explaining why state record expungement is not a valid reason to void Data Bank reports. The NPDB is an electronic collection of all payments made on behalf of physicians in connection with medical liability settlements or judgments as well as adverse peer review actions against licenses, clinical privileges, and professional society memberships of physicians and other health care practitioners.

The NPDB’s release listed the only 3 instances in which a user can void a report in the Data Bank:

1. When a report was submitted in error.
2. If the action was not reportable under NPDB reporting requirements.
3. If the action was reversed or overturned on appeal.

The NPDB drew a distinction between these three instances in contrast to an adverse action which was expunged from the public record. “An expungement is not an overturning of an action, but rather a way for the states to stop disclosure of a record. The action still occurred, but will no longer be disclosed at state level. Therefore, state expungement of an action cannot be the basis for voiding a report from the Data Bank because the action taken still exists, whereas an action that is overturned on appeal is viewed as never having existed.”

The NPDB justified their position to not allow expunged state records to be voided from the Data Base by explaining that the Data Bank information is not intended to be used as a single source of information for determining employment, certification or licensure. Rather, users should treat the Data Base as a “flagging system” to alert users that a more comprehensive review of the practitioner’s past would be prudent.

This release underscores the importance of securing and involving experienced health care legal counsel early on in the beginning of a medical staff privilege matter to minimize the likelihood of a report to the NPDB since once a report is made the chance of removing it is extremely limited.

To see the full news release, click here.

For more information regarding the National Practitioner Data Bank, please contact Robert S. Iwrey, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or (212) 734-0128 or Staff Privileging and Licensing Matters specialty page on the HLP website.

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