The Distortive Effect of the National Practitioner Data Bank on Medical Malpractice Litigation and Settlement

24 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2019

Date Written: January 1, 2017


Congress created the National Practitioner Data Bank ("NPDB") in 1986 to address a concern that medical liability cases were increasing throughout the nation. In order to prevent physicians from moving from state to state in order to escape a poor outcome, the NPDB was supposed to provide a central clearinghouse of information for every physician in the country-regardless of where they practiced. However, the NPDB distorts medical malpractice litigation and settlement-harming defendant-physicians, plaintiff-patients, and insurers. The NPDB's brooding shadow over medical malpractice has led many litigants and commentators to term it a "blacklist." Part II explores whether this term is appropriate by describing the NPDB in the context of insurer-physician relations. This discussion will connect the well-described model of insurer-insured relations to the prescient concerns raised about the NPDB's potential distortive effect on litigation and settlement as the data bank was being enacted in the late 1980s. Part III will explore mechanisms to alter reports-and place a physician's "side" into the record kept by the NPDB. Attempts to alter reports have triggered litigation against reporting entities and the NPDB itself, and although they have largely failed, these suits illustrate the unique problems that the NPDB causes physicians. In Part IV, these unsuccessful suits will be contrasted against a body of law surrounding the accuracy of another putative "blacklist"-credit scores. Part V will begin to sketch out some basic policy recommendations.

Keywords: NPDB, Medical Malpractice, National Practitioner Data Bank, Liability Insurance, Credit Scores

JEL Classification: k10, k13, k19, k20, g22

Suggested Citation

Maliha, George, The Distortive Effect of the National Practitioner Data Bank on Medical Malpractice Litigation and Settlement (January 1, 2017). Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2019, Available at SSRN:

George Maliha (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

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