Are you aware that in 2022 alone, the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) amassed over 49,000 reports associated with medical malpractice payouts and adverse actions against health practitioners, organizations, and suppliers?

Such reports carry considerable weight as they can tarnish reputations, and influence credentialing, licensing, and professional privileges. Therefore, it’s paramount to grasp the essence of the NPDB and the need to align with its reporting guidelines.

Initiated by Congress in 1986, NPDB stands as a federal repository aimed at elevating the standard of healthcare while safeguarding the public from unskilled or unethical healthcare professionals. The National Practitioner Data Bank acts as a valuable resource for healthcare organizations, licensing boards, and professional societies. More than that, it plays a crucial role as a discouragement for healthcare practitioners who might otherwise reiterate their malpractice or misconduct.

The directives for NPDB reporting are laid down by federal laws and regulations, detailing who is obliged to report which types of information to NPDB and at what intervals. Entities obliged to follow these directives span hospitals, health plans, medical malpractice payers, state licensing boards, professional societies, peer review organizations, and federal agencies.

In this article, we aim to equip you with insights and guidance to adhere to NPDB reporting regulations and sidestep prevalent errors. So that you could maintain compliance with NPDB reporting guidelines and shield your medical practice from potential risks and liabilities.

Who Must Report to NPDB?

In 2022 alone, the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) amassed over 49,000 reports associated with medical malpractice payouts and adverse actions against health practitioners, organizations, and suppliers

Federal laws and regulations establish NPDB reporting directives, identifying organizations that are either authorized or obligated to report to NPDB and specifying what information they need to report. The list of these organizations comprises:

  • Entities providing payouts for medical malpractice
  • State medical and dental boards
  • Hospitals
  • Professional societies conducting formal peer reviews
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG)
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What Exactly Needs to Be Reported to NPDB?

Per the NPDB guidelines, numerous actions and events need reporting. Let’s delve into each category, clarifying the definitions and criteria involved.

Medical Malpractice Payments

A medical malpractice payout refers to a payment made for a healthcare practitioner’s benefit following a written claim or judgment. This payment can be made by any party, including self-insured hospitals and healthcare entities, on behalf of the practitioner. It can take various forms like cash, stock, property, or services, and must be related to the practitioner’s professional competence or conduct that negatively affects or could potentially impact a patient’s health or welfare.

Examples include:

  • A settlement agreement between a patient and a practitioner
  • A court judgment favoring a patient over a practitioner
  • A structured payment plan agreed upon by a patient and a practitioner

These medical malpractice payments need to be reported to the NPDB and the relevant state licensing board within 30 days of the payment.

Read more about medical malpractice management.

Adverse Licensure and Certification Actions

Adverse licensure or certification actions involve actions taken by a state licensing or certification authority due to reasons related to a healthcare practitioner’s professional competence or conduct. Such an action can influence the practitioner’s license or certification to deliver healthcare services and can be levied against any healthcare practitioner type, such as physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, and more.

Examples of such actions include:

  • License or certification revocation or suspension
  • License or certification probation or restriction
  • Reprimand or censure by a licensing or certification authority
  • Surrender of a license or certification under or to evade investigation

These actions should be reported to the NPDB and the applicable state licensing or certification authority within 30 days of the action.

Adverse Clinical Privileges Actions

Adverse clinical privileges actions involve actions undertaken by a hospital or other healthcare entity with formal peer review, grounded on a healthcare practitioner’s professional competence or conduct negatively impacting or potentially impacting a patient’s health or welfare. Such an action can influence the practitioner’s clinical privileges to offer healthcare services at the entity and can be targeted at any healthcare practitioner type who holds clinical privileges at the entity.

Examples include:

  • Reduction or limitation of clinical privileges
  • Suspension or termination of clinical privileges
  • Denial of an application for clinical privileges
  • Surrender of clinical privileges under or to dodge investigation

These actions must be reported to the NPDB and the relevant state licensing board within 30 days of the action.

Adverse Professional Society Membership Actions

An adverse professional society membership action is an action undertaken by a professional society with formal peer review, grounded on a healthcare practitioner’s professional competence or conduct negatively impacting or potentially impacting a patient’s health or welfare. Such an action can influence the practitioner’s membership status in society.

Examples include:

  • Expulsion or suspension from membership
  • Probation or restriction of membership
  • Reprimand or censure by a professional society
  • Denial of an application for membership

These actions should be reported to the NPDB and the relevant state licensing board within 30 days of the action.

Negative Actions or Findings by Private Accreditation Organizations and Peer Review Organizations

A negative action or finding by a private accreditation organization refers to an action taken by an organization accrediting healthcare entities based on care quality standards. A negative action or finding by a peer review organization refers to an action taken by an organization evaluating healthcare services provided by healthcare entities based on care quality standards. Such an action can impact the accreditation status or participation status of the healthcare entity.

Examples include:

  • Denial or withdrawal of accreditation
  • Probationary accreditation
  • Conditional accreditation
  • Recommendation for improvement
  • Sanction for noncompliance

These actions need to be reported to the NPDB and the relevant state licensing or certification authority within 30 days of the action.

Healthcare-Related Criminal Convictions and Civil Judgments

Healthcare-related criminal convictions and judgments refer to criminal proceedings for an offense associated with a healthcare item or service delivery.

Examples include:

  • Fraudulent billing
  • Illegal prescribing
  • Patient abuse or neglect
  • False claims
  • Kickbacks

These convictions and judgments must be reported to the NPDB within 30 days of the conviction or judgment.

Exclusions from Participation in a Federal or State Health Care Program

An exclusion from participation in a federal or state healthcare program is an action prohibiting a healthcare practitioner, entity, provider, or supplier from participating in various programs based on diverse grounds related to fraud, abuse, care quality, licensure status, and more.

Examples include:

  • Mandatory exclusion for a conviction related to Medicare/Medicaid fraud
  • Permissive exclusion for defaulting on student loan obligations
  • Voluntary exclusion for self-disclosure purposes

Exclusions from participation in federal healthcare programs are reported monthly to NPDB by the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG). Exclusions from participation in state healthcare programs are reported within 30 days by state Medicaid agencies.

Other Adjudicated Actions or Decisions

Other adjudicated actions or decisions involve actions taken by any federal agency responsible for managing federal health programs that result in an administrative remedy against any healthcare practitioner, entity provider, or supplier delivering items or services under those programs.

Examples include:

  • Debarment or suspension from contracting with federal agencies
  • Termination or cancellation of a contract or grant agreement with federal agencies
  • Imposition of a civil monetary penalty, assessment, fine, restitution, or damages with federal agencies

These actions must be reported to NPDB within 30 days of the action.


How to Report to NPDB?

Navigating the process of reporting to the NPDB may seem a bit daunting, but it’s both straightforward and secure.

First things first, sign in. Once that’s done, you’ll be directed to the “Select an Option” page. Here, simply choose “Report”. You’ll then be taken to the “Identify the Subject” page. This is where you’ll select whether the subject of your report is a practitioner or an organization, and input the subject’s name.

The next page is where you specify the type of action. This could be anything from a medical malpractice payment to an adverse licensure action or an adverse clinical privileges action.

Following this, you’ll need to fill out the four sections of the report form: Subject Information, Entity Information, Action Information, and Attestation. The Action Information section requires a bit more detail. Here, you’ll need to provide a comprehensive narrative explaining the context and circumstances leading up to the reportable action.

Remember to include any pertinent information and documentation to bolster your report, such as copies of court orders, settlement agreements, notices of action, and so on.

Once you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, you can submit your report to the NPDB. You’ll receive a confirmation number and a copy of your report for your records.

To ensure that you report to the NPDB accurately and promptly, you can use the following tips and resources:

  • Adhere to the instructions and guidance provided on each page of the report form and review your report meticulously before submitting it.
  • Honesty is the best policy. Ensure all answers are truthful and that you provide complete and accurate information about the subject and the action or payment.
  • Keep in mind the 30-day reporting window from the date of the action or payment, as stipulated by federal laws and regulations.
  • Refer to the NPDB Guidebook Chapter E Reports which provides detailed guidance on reporting requirements and criteria for each type of reportable action or event.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to the NPDB Customer Service Center if you have any queries or need assistance with reporting. They’re available via phone, email, or chat

In terms of staying updated with your NPDB reports, several resources and strategies can be of assistance. One of the key tools at your disposal is the Report Status page. This platform allows you to conveniently verify whether your report has been processed, queried, disputed, or corrected. If you stumble upon any inaccuracies or omissions in your reports, or if there are any modifications to the reported actions or payments, it’s important that you immediately rectify or update your reports. 

Furthermore, it’s crucial to be prepared to address any queries or disputes that may come your way from subjects or other authorized entities who are seeking information or disputing your reports. For comprehensive assistance on how to manage these queries and disputes related to your reports, you can refer to the NPDB Guidebook Chapter F Querying and Reporting Dispute Resolution, which is designed to offer detailed guidance on this very topic.

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What Are the Consequences of Not Reporting to NPDB?

Failing to report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) can have serious consequences, impacting healthcare organizations and individual practitioners. Reporting is a crucial element in maintaining accountability, transparency, and patient safety in the healthcare sector.

Advantages of Reporting to the NPDB

  • Improves Patient Safety and Quality of Care: Reporting helps maintain a high standard of healthcare by informing decisions about hiring, licensing, and monitoring healthcare practitioners and entities.
  • Enhances Transparency and Accountability: With proper reporting, healthcare professionals and organizations can identify and address issues related to professional conduct, competence, and patient care.
  • Prevents Legal Issues: Complying with NPDB reporting requirements is a legal obligation under federal laws. Adherence helps avoid legal trouble and penalties.

Potential Consequences of Failing to Report

  • Civil Monetary Penalties: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) can impose penalties for each action or payment that was not reported. As of 2022, each violation can lead to a penalty of up to $42,788.
  • Loss of Federal Funding or Contracts: Non-compliant entities may be barred from participating in federal healthcare programs or lose contracts with federal agencies, resulting in significant financial consequences.
  • Reputation Damage: Non-compliance with NPDB reporting requirements can lead to public disclosure by the HHS OIG, potentially damaging the reputation and credibility of healthcare practitioners or entities involved.
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How to Avoid or Resolve Non-compliance Issues with NPDB Reporting

Consulting Legal Assistance

The specifics and the complexity of NPDB reporting requirements can be challenging to grasp. Engaging a legal professional specializing in healthcare regulations can help break down these complexities. They can provide clarity on the nuances of reporting requirements and share advice on how to navigate potential violations or penalties effectively. Their expertise can be instrumental in helping your organization stay in compliance and minimize legal risks.

Cooperating with Regulatory Investigations

Instances may occur where the HHS OIG or other authorized entities might conduct an investigation or audit of your organization’s practices. During such times, transparency and cooperation become key to demonstrating your commitment to adherence to NPDB reporting requirements. A proactive approach during these investigations can facilitate a smoother process, and can even offer opportunities to enhance your compliance strategies.

Promptly Settling Fines or Penalties

In the event of non-compliance, penalties, and fines may be levied against your organization. Addressing these fines promptly is important not only for resolving the immediate issue but also for preserving the reputation of your organization. Regular communication with regulatory agencies can ensure that you are updated about any changes in regulations, thereby preventing any potential penalties in the future.

Utilizing the NPDB Guidebook

The NPDB Guidebook is a comprehensive resource offering detailed guidance on all facets of NPDB reporting. It covers requirements and criteria for each type of reportable action or incident and is updated regularly to reflect any changes to the regulations. Making the NPDB Guidebook a go-to reference can help your organization maintain compliance and stay informed about the evolving healthcare landscape.

Connecting with NPDB Customer Service Center

For any questions or uncertainties related to NPDB reporting, the NPDB Customer Service Center is a valuable resource. Offering assistance via phone, email, or chat, the Center can help resolve your queries and guide you through any difficulties you might encounter in the reporting process.

In conclusion, maintaining vigilance in meeting NPDB reporting requirements is a cornerstone of responsible healthcare provision. Navigating compliance might be a multifaceted endeavor, but with the right tools, resources, and expert support, it is an attainable goal that can lead to improved patient care, enhanced transparency, and strengthened trust in your organization.

FAQs About NPDB Reporting

  • What is the difference between NPDB and HIPDB?
    The National Practitioner Data Bank, or NPDB, gathers and preserves records of malpractice payments and unfavorable actions related to healthcare providers, practitioners, entities, and suppliers. On the other hand, the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank, known as HIPDB, is used to document healthcare-related civil rulings, criminal convictions, exclusions from federal or state healthcare programs, and other adjudicated actions. However, as per the Affordable Care Act Section 6403 in 2013, HIPDB was consolidated with the NPDB.
  • How do I access my own NPDB report?
    By signing up with NPDB’s Self-Query Service, you can access your personal NPDB report. The process involves submitting personal details, paying a specific fee, authenticating your identity, lodging your self-query request, and subsequently receiving your self-query response. This report can be used for verification processes or for personal assessment.
  • How do I dispute an NPDB report?
    If you think that an NPDB report is incomplete or inaccurate, it can be disputed. You need to reach out to the reporting entity that filed the report and request an amendment. If the entity acknowledges the correction, it will file a corrected report to the NPDB. If the reporting entity refuses to correct the report or doesn’t respond within a 60-day period, you can add a statement to the report highlighting your stance. Under specific conditions, you can also ask for arbitration.
  • How do I remove an NPDB report?
    Unless the reporting organization has mistakenly filed a report, it is not possible to remove an NPDB report. If you suspect that a report was filed erroneously, you must contact the reporting entity and ask for the report to be voided. If they agree to the void request, they will file a void report to the NPDB. If the entity does not agree or doesn’t respond within 60 days, the report can be disputed as detailed earlier.
  • How do I protect my privacy when reporting to NPDB?
    The NPDB safeguards your privacy by adhering to stringent security and confidentiality measures for all the data it handles. The NPDB does not share personally identifiable information about you or your patients, except with authorized users who require this data. Furthermore, the NPDB uses encryption for its data transmissions and necessitates user authentication and approval for accessing its online platform.
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