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Chapter 1: National Practitioner Data Bank Description

Purpose of the National Practitioner Data Bank

The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) was established by the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA) to protect the public by restricting the ability of practitioners to move from State to State or hospital to hospital without disclosing medical malpractice payments or adverse action histories at the time of credentialing, employment, licensing, or monitoring. Implemented in September 1990, the NPDB serves as an electronic repository to collect and release information related to the professional competence and conduct of physicians, dentists, and other health care practitioners. Establishing the NPDB represented an important step by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promote patient safety and improve the quality of health care for all Americans.

State licensing boards, hospitals, health care entities, and professional societies are expected to identify, discipline, and report on those who engage in unprofessional behavior. The NPDB plays an important role in ensuring quality health care and a skilled health care workforce by providing critical information to health care entities about practitioners. The NPDB serves as an alert or flagging system intended to facilitate a comprehensive review of health care practitioners' professional credentials. The information contained in the NPDB directs discrete inquiry into, and scrutiny of, a practitioner's licensure, clinical privileges, professional society memberships, and medical malpractice payment history.