By JESSE ADAM MARKOS, ESQ.
The National Practitioner Data Bank (Data Bank) has published an article in the April 2019 issue of NPDB Insights that urges reporting entities to include a detailed narrative when submitting an Adverse Action Report. The Data Bank’s stated purpose for requesting detailed information is to give organizations a more complete picture of what occurred to assist in making critical hiring and credentialing decisions. However, it will also result in healthcare providers being saddled with a career-damaging Data Bank report that contain inaccurate details and contested facts. Importantly, options are available to these providers to help minimize the damage. More specifically, healthcare providers have the right to submit a Subject Statement to the report at any time to give a more accurate and complete picture of what occurred.
By way of background, the Data Bank is an alert system that collects and discloses certain adverse information about physicians and other healthcare providers. A report to the Data Bank can significantly impact a healthcare provider’s reputation and career. NPDB Insights is published by the Data Bank to provide guidance to users on topics such as eligibility, querying and reporting requirements, and the dispute process. The April 2019 version of NPDB Insights contains an article titled “Why You Should Write a Detailed Narrative When Submitting a Report.” According to that article, “including a detailed narrative provides depth and nuance to reports to assist organizations in making critical hiring and credentialing decisions. The narrative of events helps contextualize the situation and gives organizations a more complete picture of what occurred. Your narrative should include official findings of the action taken, descriptions of the circumstances leading up to the action, and the facts of the case.”
The article also provides an example of the following standard narrative “the practitioner was suspended” and compares it to a much more detailed one that includes statement such as “the practitioner chronically failed to complete medical records and patient charts, and a medical error occurred due to the practitioner not completing medical records on time.” The suggestion from this sample that reporting entities should use equivocal words like “chronically” and include statements regarding causation is sure to result in narratives that are contested by the subject of the report.
In order to contest a detailed narrative, the subject of a Data Bank report has the right to add a Subject Statement to the report at any time. This does not mean that a healthcare provider can change or correct a report, because the reporting organization and the Secretary of HHS are the only ones who can modify or void a processed report, but it does mean that a healthcare provider can add exculpatory or mitigating information to clarify the issues in dispute and place the disciplinary action in its proper context. Once processed, the statement is sent to the reporting organization and all queriers who received a copy of the corresponding Data Bank report in the last 3 years, and it is included in future queries.
A report to the Data Bank, especially one that contains a misleading narrative, can significantly impact a healthcare provider’s reputation and career and ultimately affect their ability to work as a healthcare professional in Michigan. As a result, healthcare providers should carefully explore all options such as the filing of a Subject Statement that are available to minimize the professional damage resulting from a Data Bank report and avoid the resulting economic implications. For additional information or assistance, please contact at Jesse Adam Markos, Esq. of Wachler & Associates at (248) 544-0888.