If your medical staff is investigating or restricting your clinical privileges, or you are about to surrender your clinical privileges to avoid an investigation, do not assume that the situation will be kept totally confidential. The medical staff may be obligated to report you to the National Practitioner Data Bank (the “NPDB”), a national clearinghouse of data about the competence of health care practitioners that the medical staffs of hospitals and other organizations check when reviewing applications for clinical privileges. Being reported to the NPDB can have significant consequences, such as spoiling job opportunities or requiring disclosure on, or amendments to, applications for professional licensure. 
On October 26, 2018, the NPDB issued its current NPDB Guidebook, updated for the first time since 2015. The updates clarify that certain situations (some of which were previously understood  not to be reportable by medical staffs and health care attorneys) are, in fact, reportable. Among other examples, the new guidance states that:
  • Many agreements not to exercise privileges (often made informally among physicians and medical staffs during investigations) are now reportable to the NPDB (Guidebook at Q.22). 
  • Taking a leave of absence while under investigation is generally reportable (Guidebook at Q.23). 
  • Withdrawing or resigning during a clinical privilege reappointment review may be reportable (Guidebook at Q.24).
  • Restrictions to clinical privileges, such as proctoring requirements, are reportable if they are in effect for more than 30 days (Guidebook at E-41).
If you need assistance with issues involving your clinical privileges or questions about NPDB reporting, please contact Heather Skelton or Ethan Dunn.
Full update available in the NPDB Guidebook.