More than 30 years ago, Congress established an entity called the National Practitioner Data Bank with the idea that there needed to be a way to protect the public from health care abuses and bad doctors. The NPDB was meant to serve as a sort of clearinghouse that hospitals could use to check a physician’s background before they were hired. Otherwise, it was far too easy for a bad doctor who ran into problems in one state to pull up stakes and start working in another.
It hasn’t exactly been a success. In fact, it’s even been called a “toothless tiger” by those who have witnessed the system’s failures.
What’s the problem? Why hasn’t it worked? The NPDB can take reports from law enforcement, insurance companies and medical boards. However, hospitals are its most useful source of information, and hospitals don’t like to make those reports. In fact, a recent investigation revealed that only half of the nation’s hospitals have ever filed a report about a doctor.
Are those hospitals just lucky enough to never have had an inept physician in their midst? That’s highly unlikely. You just have to look at the notorious Christopher Duntsch, also known as “Dr. Death,” for an example of what really happens. Despite botching surgeries so badly that some of his patients ended up paralyzed or maimed and others died, he was able to move from one hospital to the next without his history being discovered.
Going to a renowned hospital or medical facility for treatment is no guarantee that the doctor you see is any good at their job. If you were injured by a physician’s mistake, find out how you can pursue a measure of justice through a medical malpractice claim.