Public physician database is back online

After being offline for two months, a publicly available version of the National Practitioner Data Bank, which allows users to track doctors' records, check prospective hires, and make other decisions, is back online, according to Propublica.org.  The publicly available version of the site contains no confidential identifiers such as doctors' names and addresses.

According to the article, the site was shut down several months ago because a newspaper reporter used it, combined with court records and other publicly available data, to write an article about a physician with multiple malpractice cases against him.  As a result, the site has now been reopened to the public with the restriction that users of the new database are no longer allowed to combine information from the public database with any other publicly available information in a way that would identify doctors.

(Sources: Probpublica.org, http://www.propublica.org, November 10, 2011; Kaiser Daily Health Policy Project, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, November 14, 2011)