Many U.S. Hospitals Fail To Report Substandard Doctors To National Databank

  1. Poor reporting hampers database on substandard physicians
    Source: Contra Costa Times

    Many hospitals are failing to adequately discipline and report substandard doctors, making it easier for such physicians to relocate to another institution or state where their track records are not known, a citizens group charged Wednesday.

    Nearly half of hospitals nationwide did not submit a single doctor's name in 17 years to a national databank that keeps track of physicians whose privileges have been revoked or restricted for more than 30 days, concluded a report released Wednesday by Public Citizen.

    "These problems have been known for a long time ... and basically, nothing has been done," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, acting president of the group.

    Congress established the National Practitioner Data Bank in 1990 to have a central place with names of doctors whose hospital privileges have been restricted or revoked because of problems involving medical competency or conduct.

    Hospitals can query the database before making decisions on whether to hire someone to find out if they have had problems elsewhere.

    But at the urging of physician groups, the databank has been closed to the public. Consumers cannot find out if their doctor is on the list.

    Public Citizen sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday urging her to take action to improve reporting, including setting financial penalties for hospitals that fail to comply.
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  3. by   oramar
    That is not exactly news to nurses.
  4. by   ANnot4me
    I worked at a small hospital in Chicago for about a month. Most of the nurses immigrants and minorities who stood up to give a doctor a seat. Doctors who would tell a nurse to fetch them forms, etc. One night I was working and an attending physician was drunk out of his mind and put in a central line. I was freaked out and had only been a nurse for a couple of years. Quit that job. The things that I have seen... But nobody wants to know about what keeps me up at night: just the good stuff.
  5. by   Mollypita
    My Lord, how many of us have seen the results of this being "overlooked"?!?! And what good is that list if nobody can access it?! Come on!! As patient advocates, nurses need to find some way to better communicate the "worth" of doctors (or lack of). I have made recommendations to patients before, knowing that the higher-ups would have a problem with it if they'd heard me. But what I really wanted to do was tell them to run as fast as they could from Dr. X... with good reason, believe me. I wish I knew the answer!
  6. by   Neveranurseagain
    As an RN whose husband died of a medical incident this didn't surprise me at all. It's been almost 2 years since it was reported and the board of medical examiners is STILL investigating. They knew NOTHING of the incident until I was paid under a med mal settlement. The hospital did nothing to report in all, it has been 4 1/2 years since his death and the state board still has the case open.

    I guess because it didn't involve Anna Nicole Smith it isn't a high priority...
  7. by   ShayRN
    I have on more than one occasion told a family member (when they asked) "well, that doctor is fine, but if it were MY mom, I would use....They usually get the message.
  8. by   Katnip
    Most hospitals are afraid to report doctors because of financial issues.

    Even bad docs bring in $$$ for the hospital.

    Docs often stick together, so if a bad one is punished, the others may start preferring to send their patients elsewhere. Probably most good docs wouldn't do that, but hospital admins fear it.
  9. by   nerdtonurse?
    We had a surgeon that we called Dr. kidding. Guy would leave stuff in pts, the nurses would tell him his count was off, and this idiot just kept sewing. In the roughly 4 years he was at our hospital, he was sued for 14 deaths -- not "gee, I think my scar's ugly" but forceps left in abdomens, colostomy reverses were the pt woke up with NO colon anymore and a 1 foot up, 1 foot over scar, for no known reason, umbilical hernia repairs where he punctured the bowel and never ordered antibiotics until the pt was within 2 hours of death (pt did die). He was also famous for inserting pages into the chart and writing orders to cover his backside, making us look like we hadn't done anything. We started numbering the pages of the chart and initialing the numbers; some nurses made copies of the chart, knowing that they were going to be lawsuits (kept copies in their lockers at work). Nobody did anything, despite repeated complaints from the nurses on the floor and in the OR. When a family he thought he could snowball was smarter than he realized, they called the medical board and threatened to go to the newspapers about Dr. Death and how the board hadn't done anything about the guy. They yanked the doc's license, and told him he had to go back thru residency. All he did was just move to another state, and start up again.
  10. by   oramar
    Quote from Katnip
    Most hospitals are afraid to report doctors because of financial issues.

    Even bad docs bring in $$$ for the hospital.

    Docs often stick together, so if a bad one is punished, the others may start preferring to send their patients elsewhere. Probably most good docs wouldn't do that, but hospital admins fear it.
    The worst thing about the whole situation is that when nurses try to do something about bad docs they almost always get punished way more than the doc every does. If you don't think this is true tell me. That bad pediatric surgeon in Canada that was on 60 minutes about 10 years ago. He killed so many kids till nurses went after him. Some did it at the cost of their own careers.
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    Concern is you don't want to see the National Practitioner Database turn into Group One (TX consumer reporting agency that blocks nurses hiring). Facility Medical Staff offices have access to National Practitioner Database, OIG sanction check (those committed government fraud) etc. Having staff that THINKS and questions why attending moving state to state every 2-3yrs (not doing residency/fellowship) along with prior hospitals only giving dates of employment should be RED FLAGS to medical staff to investigate more closely prior to bringing aboard.
    Making reporting MANDATORY for both nurses and medial staff that have substandard care with no improvement after remediation should be law of the land to unsure "first do no harm" re patient protection.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jun 4, '09
  12. by   3dogs1cat
    This is a good thing to point out. Only been a nurse 2.5 yrs and I can tell you that I have had to learn a lot more than I ever thought I would to keep some of the physicians I am working with from killing a patient.

    There is one physician that I am wondering if the dead body of the doctor he took his identity from is going to be found any time soon.......
  13. by   katgal
    I live in a small rural community and we have a doc who consistently keeps patients in the hospital 3-4 days longer than is necessary, last week a patient on dialysis suffered a stroke and was admitted for end of life care. The doc argued with the family and made them feel horrible for opting to stop dialysis (patient was unresponsive the whole time and was DNR). He order IV fluids on this poor lady against family wishes. She had no urine output and filled up like a balloon. I almost think he did it to punish them for not doing what he wanted them to do. He puts PEG tubes in 100 year old DNR patients who cannot speak for themselves and before the family can object. He will try to sneak orders in the chart and say that we miss them to cover himself (he has been caught before). I am a new nurse and am so frusterated by this doctor. What can I do? These are just a few examples of poor care this guy provides. The other nurses in the hospital have the attitude of "well that is just Dr. X." This doc admits a large portion of the patients to the hospital so I don't think administration would do anything at all. Is there anything I can do?
  14. by   blue note
    I was going to post that someone should start a Yelp for Doctors, or something like RateMyDoctor (as they have for professors), only to find out, such a site already exists!

    They do need more people to rate and write reviews though, but it's a start since doctors are the ones who don't want people to be able to access the national database!