Alan Woodward, MD
The recent ruling by the federal government that reaffirms mandatory disclosures of all medical malpractice payments has left physicians in Oregon and Massachusetts concerned that it will quash laws crafted in those states for mediated settlements.
"Nobody is trying to carve out a loophole that would compromise the need to report substandard care to the National Practitioner Data Bank," says Alan Woodward, MD, past president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and current chair of MMS's Committee on Professional Liability.
"We asked HHS and the National Practitioner Data Bank to provide a clarification. What they did was to restate the status quo. That is what this whole interpretation is, just to say we've done things this way, this is what the law says, and this is how we interpret it," Woodward told HealthLeaders Media.
A challenge to the mediation laws surfaced last fall when Public Citizen asked then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to address what the patient advocacy group said were "loopholes" created in Massachusetts and Oregon that allowed physicians in those states to avoid reporting malpractice settlements with the National Practitioner Data Bank.
Public Citizen said the laws "threatened the viability of the NPDB as a comprehensive and reliable source of data regarding malpractice payouts," especially if the Oregon and Massachusetts laws were used as models in other states.