HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The National Practitioner Data Bank's "Public" File

HRSA has restored access to the NPDB public file, here. There are, however, strings attached that are designed to stop the kind of re-identification that led to a physician complaint and the database's temporary closure. That timeline is detailed at Pro Publica, here. Now, prior to gaining access to the public file, HRSA requires users to agree to its "Data Use Agreement," here, that prohibits using "the dataset alone or in combination with other data to identify any individual or entity or otherwise link information from this file with information in another dataset in a manner that includes the identity of an individual or entity."

Senator Grassley, here, is unimpressed by this new precondition and the Association of Health Care Journalists has written to Secretary Sibelius, here, noting "We believe these rules are ill-advised, unenforceable and probably unconstitutional. Restricting how reporters use public data is an attempt at prior restraint."

This one is unlikely to die down anytime soon! [NPT]

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