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September 1991

What Every Physician Should Know About the National Practitioner Data Bank

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, University of Miami (Fla) School of Medicine.

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(9):1708-1711. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400090010002

In response to the deepening medical malpractice crisis, the US Congress passed the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986.1 In the act, Congress clearly stated that the malpractice problem could be remedied through effective professional peer review and further noted a national need to restrict the ability of incompetent physicians to move from state to state without discovery of their previous damaging and/or incompetent performance. To foster these two objectives (professional peer review and the restriction of the mobility of incompetent physicians), the act authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to establish a National Practitioner Data Bank (the Data Bank) to serve as a national repository of information regarding the professional competence and conduct of primarily doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, and dentists. Unisys was awarded by the Secretary of DHHS a 5-year, $15.9 million contract, commencing January 1, 1989, to establish