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Comments from the American Medical Association on National Practioner Data Bank

Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009 by Christopher L. Thayer

alt textI recently discovered this link on the American Medical Association’s (AMA) website and found it interesting.

The National Practitioner’s Data Bank (NPDB) is a national database that is maintained for all physicians licensed in the U.S. It requires physicians, dentists and certain other healthcare practitioners to report any settlement payments or verdicts on medical malpractice claims. Claims reported on this database can have adverse effects on a physician’s licensure and can affect malpractice insurance premiums. An unintended result of this database is that it often poses an obstacle to settling modest legitimate medical malpractice cases: because the healthcare provider doesn’t want the payment reported to the NPDB. This is further complicated by the fact that many insurance policies for physicians have a “consent to settle” provision, which provides that the insured physician has to consent (agree) to any proposed settlement. It is not uncommon to have the physician’s attorney and insurance adjuster recommending settlement, but the physician will refuse because they want to avoid getting reported on this database. This is just one more challenge you face when trying to pursue a medical malpractice action. Rather telling is this header on the AMA’s site, which states:

How to evade a report to the NPDB or ensure that the information in the report is accurate

My question: How many patients know that their doctor is being advised by the AMA on how to “evade” reporting medical malpractice claims? Food for thought.

For more information, please contact Christopher Thayer at 206-805-1494.

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