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Public Use Data File Format Specifications

Background

NPDB Public Use Data File contains selected variables from National Practitioner Data Bank Reports, received from September 1, 1990 through September 30, 2018.

The NPDB Public Use Data Files are available for download in the following three formats:

  1. NPDB1807.POR [SPSS portable data file]
    • The SPSS [Statistical Package for the Social Sciences] version of the Public-Use File is in the "portable" format and can be read directly by SPSS regardless of the computer's operating system.
    • If you can use the SPSS "portable" data file, we strongly recommend that you do so to retain the variable names and labels saved in the file. With the ".POR" file therefore, you can avoid having to manually format the data.
    • A fully functional demo version of SPSS can be downloaded from http://www.spss.com/ for a limited time.
    • The ".POR" file can be read by a variety of other statistical packages as well.
  2. NPDB1807.DAT [ASCII text]
  3. NPDB1807.CSV [Comma Separated Values]
    The CSV file may be too large to be opened in most spreadsheet programs such as EXCEL or QUATTRO PRO.

Each of these files has the following:

  • Number of Cases: 1,406,584
  • Number of Variables: 54

As a result of the HIPDB merger on May 6, 2013, the NPDB Public Use File includes records from Section 1921(a)(1)(A) and 1921(a)(1)(B) with the exception of Judgment or Conviction Records (JOCRs).

As a result of the HIPDB merger on May 6, 2013, the NPDB Public Use File includes records from Section 1921(a)(1)(A) and 1921(a)(1)(B) with the exception of Judgment or Conviction Records (JOCRs).

Caution: Because of the size of this file, we strongly recommend that analysis be performed using statistical software such as SPSS, SAS, etc. The file may be too large to import into most spreadsheet programs, such as Excel or Quatro Pro. Although spreadsheet or database programs may be used to create tables and count records with specific characteristics, the use of these programs with this file is likely to be a slow and cumbersome process. Word processing programs cannot be used to analyze this file.

Unless you use statistical software which recognizes the SPSS ".POR" format, you must use the ".DAT" or ".CSV" version of the public use file and define variables and values using the format information below. Statistical software which recognizes the SPSS ".POR" format can read all of the variable and value information automatically and will not require you to define variables and values.

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Source of Data File:

Division of Practitioner Data Bank
Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW)/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
5600 Fishers Lane, RM 11NWH04
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: (301) 443-2300
Fax: (301) 443-6725
E-mail: dpdbdatarequests@hrsa.gov

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Credit

Please cite the following as the source for this data in any report or publication which makes use of this data: "National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use Data File, [date], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Workforce, Division of Practitioner Data Bank." Any mention of the source of the information should refer to the Public Use Data File. It is not correct to cite the National Practitioner Data Bank as the source without also specifying the Public Use Data File.

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Summary

The Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA), as amended, Title IV of Public Law 99- 660, led to the establishment of the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Title IV authorized the NPDB to collect and disclose to authorized queriers certain information relating to the professional competence and conduct of physicians, dentists, and other health care practitioners. Subsequent laws later expanded the information collected and disclosed by the NPDB and modified its operations. Most recently, Congress passed Section 6403 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Public Law 111-148 to eliminate duplication between the NPDB and the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB). On May 6, 2013, NPDB operations were consolidated with those of the former HIPDB. As a result of this consolidation, information previously collected and disclosed by the HIPDB is now collected and disclosed by the NPDB. This legislation established the NPDB as the single Data Bank to receive and disclose information collected under Title IV, Section 1921 of the Social Security Act, and Section 1128E of the Social Security Act. Information is available to eligible entities based on the requirements of each law. As of May 6, 2013, the NPDB Public Use Data File contains reports received by the NPDB concerning health care practitioners, entities, providers and suppliers. Reports in the NPDB Public Use File include medical malpractice payments, and adverse actions, including clinical privileges actions, Federal and state licensure and certification actions, professional society membership actions, peer review organization actions, private accreditation actions, exclusions from Federal or state health care programs, and other adjudicated actions or decisions.

Information reported to the NPDB is confidential and can be provided only to authorized queriers, based on their eligibility to receive the information under each of the three laws. Authorized queriers include hospitals, other health care entities with formal peer review, professional societies with formal peer review, quality improvement organizations, health plans, state licensing and certification authorities, Federal licensing and certification agencies, state law enforcement agencies, state agencies administering State health care programs, state Medicaid Fraud Units, agencies or contractors administering Federal health care programs, U.S. Comptroller General, Federal law enforcement agencies and officials, health care practitioners (self-query), and plaintiff's attorney/pro se plaintiffs (under limited circumstances).

Under section 426 of the HCQIA(42 USC 11135), as implemented by regulations at 45 CFR part 60.13(a)(2)(ix), data may be released to "a person or entity who requests information in a form which does not permit the identification of any particular health care entity, physician, dentist, or other health care practitioner." This file is released in accordance with that provision to facilitate research use of NPDB information by persons interested in medical malpractice, licensing, discipline, and quality assurance issues.

For specific detailed information on the NPDB and the types of data reported to it, you may review the NPDB Guidebook.

In accordance with the Law and Regulations, variables which identify or would allow identification of individual entities or practitioners are excluded from the public use file. In order to assure confidentiality to all types of practitioners, the smallest geographic unit identified in each record in this file is a State. However, if workloads permit, the Division of Practitioner Data Bank may be able to provide data sets for particular types of practitioners identified to smaller geographic units to researchers who demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Branch that there are enough practitioners of the subject type in each geographic unit for which they desire data (and also in any remaining area in a State for which they are not requesting data) to preclude identification of individual practitioners. Normally geographical units will have to contain at least several counties. Researchers who request such data sets are also responsible for identifying geographical units by ZIP code and for paying the costs of providing the special data set.

The NPDB Public Use Data File contains one record for each report in the NPDB, as a result of the HIPDB merger on May 6, 2013, the NPDB Public Use File includes all NPDB reports from Section 1921(a)(1)(A) and 1921(a)(1)(B) with the exception of Judgment or Conviction Reports (JOCRs), as specified at the beginning of this "read.me" file.

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