Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Mary K. Wakefield, Administrator
Health Resources and Services Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Re: Public Use File of the National Practitioner Data Bank
Dear Secretary Sebelius and Administrator Wakefield:
The undersigned are academic researchers who work in the areas of public health, health care quality/patient safety, medical liability, and related fields. (Signatories are listed alphabetically by last name. Academic affiliations are provided for purposes of identification only.)
We write to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, HRSA’s recent decision to make the Public Use File (PUF) of the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) unavailable. We also request that HRSA restore the PUF’s availability immediately.
The NPDB is the only nationwide database of closed medical malpractice claims that is publicly available to researchers. Academics use it extensively. A search on “National Practitioner Data Bank” in Google Scholar’s “articles and patents” database returned a multitude of hits. The same search run in WESTLAW’s “journals and law reviews” database returned 576 articles. In PubMed, the search generated 399 articles. Not all of these articles contain new empirical findings, but many do, and the sheer number of publications attests to the NPDB’s importance. The NPDB is an indispensable resource for academic researchers.