[MOL] U.S. Congress to consider opening doctor databank [00510] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] U.S. Congress to consider opening doctor databank



U.S. Congress to consider opening doctor databank
    [09/07/2000; Cable News Network]

(CNN) -- The U.S. Congress is to consider legislation that would
give the public access to the federal data bank that tracks the
records of health care providers.  Patients would be able to
examine the government's Practitioner Data Bank of practicing
physicians, including malpractice judgements and disciplinary
actions taken against them.

Massachusetts opened its files with the Physician Profiles Program,
supported by doctors.  It gives consumers the addresses and specialties
of physicians, in addition to information about outstanding complaints,
or malpractice lawsuits.  The profiles are available over the
Internet. 

"It fosters good communication," said Nancy Achin Sullivan, of
the Massachusetts Board of Medicine, "and I think it makes it
OK for patients to ask those questions that very polite people
would not ask ordinarily -- 'Have you ever been sued for malpractice?
Did anyone ever prevail? What did you learn from that?'"

As many as 98,000 patients die each year in the United States
as a result of medical mistakes, according to the Institute of
Medicine, but not all of them are caused by doctors.

Currently, only hospitals, HMO's and state medical boards can
access the federal government site, which indicates whether a
doctor has been sued or disciplined. The government provides
a public version of the database but strips out doctors' and
dentists' names and other identifying information.

The full article can be found at:

http://www.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/09/07/doctor.database/index.html

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