New Data Bank Will Help Hospitals with Background Checks

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 28, 2010

After years of delay in the federal bureaucracy, a national data base for background checks on licensed medical professionals from all 50 states will be available for hospitals to examine on March 1, the Health Resources and Services Administration announced today.

Hospitals can already access the National Practitioner Data Base, which contains records on physicians and dentists, such as license or privilege suspensions, and malpractice payments that are reported by state and federal oversight agencies and health plans.

Now, restricted access data stored in the separate Healthcare Integrity Protection Data Bank, which records adverse licensure actions for all medical professionals, including nurses, technicians, chiropractors, and podiatrists, will be added to the NPDB for hospitals to examine.

HIPDB has been available only to health plans, state and federal oversight agencies, and individual medical professionals for self-queries.

"This means there will be a wider variety of information available to hospitals on healthcare professionals whose information wasn't available before," says HRSA spokesperson David Bowman. "They will have access to a broad array of information that will assist them in making their due diligence when they are in the hiring process."

The data will be collected by sources that include malpractice payers, state licensing and certification boards, hospitals, peer review organizations, accreditation organizations, and professional societies that conduct peer review.

It will be available for hospitals, healthcare professional societies that conduct peer review, state medical and dental boards, law enforcement, and for self-queries from medical professionals.

Businesses like temporary healthcare staffing companies, however, will usually not be allowed access to the data.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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