Health Workers' Misdeeds Kept In Secret Database

NPR: "Twenty-two years ago, the federal government started keeping a list of nurses, nurse aides, pharmacists and pharmacy aides who've been disciplined by state licensing boards. It's called the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank. But hospitals and nursing homes aren't allowed to see the database." The database was intended to be "open to hospitals and nursing homes when they hire staff and want to run a background check. But the Department of Health and Human Services never completed the regulation implementing the law. Turns out, slow-moving bureaucracy is the main culprit." A separate data bank of doctors who have been disciplined is open to hospitals.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, head of the consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen's Health Research Group "notes there are more than 102,000 nurses, nurse aides, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants who've been disciplined and included in the registry." States have their own open databases, but Wolfe "says there's a need for access to a centralized, federal data bank." The American Nurses Association agrees (Shapiro, 9/3).

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