As a Coral Gables hospital mistake lawyer, I am confused by President Obama’s decision to remove the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) from the web. The NPDB provided the public with various information about doctors, disciplinary actions and malpractice verdicts in general. Patients, lawyers and journalists have used the data bank to obtain information about doctors and trends in medical malpractice.

The NPDB has valuable information and reports. For example, it shows that, as of April 2011, Florida has received 126 medical malpractice reports against nurse midwives and 132 medical malpractice reports against nurse anesthetists. Unfortunately, the information is only available to hospitals, health care providers, State and Federal health care agencies, and quality improvement organizations. Patients and their attorneys are only eligible to receive certain information under very limited circumstances.

In response to a complaint lodged by a neurosurgeon, the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Resources removed public access to the data bank on September 1, 2011.

The Kansas City Star recently reported that many doctors with extensive history of malpractice often go undisciplined. The Star reviewed thousands of records and found that 21 doctors practicing in Kansas and Missouri had at least 10 malpractice payments but never received any discipline by the state health agency.

Our Florida injured patient law firm believes that it is important to provide the public access to transparent information regarding both doctor and hospital conduct to ensure responsibility and keep the public focused on fundamental issues of patient safety. By blocking the public’s access to crucial information President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Resources will allow doctors and hospitals to continue to quietly make mistakes that harm and sometimes result in the wrongful death of a patient without public accountability.

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