Background: The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) serves as a federal information clearinghouse on malpractice payments for and disciplinary sanctions against health care practitioners. Hospitals are required to query the NPDB biannually for practitioners with clinical privileges, and other health care entities with significant peer review are encouraged to query the NPDB. A study was conducted to determine whether health care organizations find the NPDB useful.
Methods: A survey was conducted of 1,038 organizations that queried the NPDB between March 1998 and February 1999; 653 of those respondents also answered questions regarding 1,639 specific matched responses (feedback from the NPDB when the practitioner in question had one or more reports).
Results: Overall, the entities rated querying the NPDB as very useful (6.16 on a 7-point scale). More than 21% of matched responses contained new information, and this information altered institutional credentialing decisions in more than 5% of the cases.
Discussion: Many of the results from this study are consistent with findings in Office of Inspector General reports. The fact that 5% of credentialing decisions were altered because of NPDB information suggests that practitioner self-report is an inadequate mechanism for soliciting credentialing information.
Summary and conclusions: NPDB reports provide accurate and complete information that is useful to providers in their credentialing process.