Remember the report we issued on May 27 that outlined the failures of hospitals to report and discipline poor doctors? Well so do Charlie Gibson and ABC News because they covered our findings last night.
Our report found that nearly 50 percent of all hospitals in the United States failed to submit a single report to the National Practitioner Databank since its creation in 1990. The Databank was created to keep track of bad doctors by listing any practitioner who had their admitting privileges revoked or suspended for 31 days or more. That way, a hospital could easily check any doctor’s background before hiring him or her.
But this system has failed the very people it was trying to protect. Hospitals routinely exploit loopholes to avoid government requirements, such as the need to report to the Databank.
Our report inspired coverage by CNN’s Lou Dobbs, The Miami Herald, The Detroit Free Press, and more. We also found a MediaNews (Calif.) editorial that agreed with us and continued by saying:
It’s obvious the U.S. Health and Human Services needs to examine the effectiveness of the database and consider stricter penalties on hospitals that do not report.
Here’s another problem: The databank is closed to the public and patients do not know if their doctors are on the list. What’s ironic is a person can find out if a contractor has done shoddy work on a home or an auto service dealer on a car, but information that could be the difference of life and death, a doctor’s track record, is withheld. Maybe that should change, too. Shouldn’t people have a right to know how well their doctors have performed?
Congress was on the right track when it established this database. Now it’s time to put some teeth in it.
We’re glad our report has raised these questions and we’ll keep you updated with any further developments.