Wash. begins data bank checks of health practitioners

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 14, 2006

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The Washington State Dept. of Health recently began using two national data banks to see if health care license applicants, including physicians, have been disciplined in other states. The additional scrutiny will allow the agency to look for violations that could affect an applicant's ability to deliver safe and quality health care, state officials said.

The data banks list disciplinary actions against health care professionals for conduct relating to practice. The National Practitioner Data Bank is one the state checks. It contains information related to medical, osteopathic, chiropractic and dental practitioners. Data include medical liability payments and actions taken against applicants licensed in other states. Some physicians and consumer groups criticized the data bank as being ineffective, pointing to a 2000 General Accounting Office report that found that it was inaccurate and incomplete.

The other data bank, Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank, involves professions regulated by a state and includes health care-related civil judgments and criminal convictions in federal or state court, injunctions, and federal or state licensing and certification actions.

"Patient safety is our top priority," Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement. "These data banks will allow Washington to review each applicant's professional background to see if they have had problems in other states before we decide whether or not to license them to practice in our state."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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