Marking the first update since September 2001, the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) division of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has issued a draft of the revised National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”) Guidebook. The release of the draft Guidebook was announced in the Federal Register on December 27, 2013 and the period to submit comments to the draft is ongoing until January 31, 2014.
The revised Guidebook includes expanded and improved examples about reporting to and querying the NPDB, live links to cited statutes and regulations, and useful tables explaining NPDB policies. Also incorporated in the revised Guidebook are legislative and regulatory changes adopted since the last edition. Perhaps the most significant regulatory change incorporated in the revised Guidebook is the merger of the NPDB and the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (“HIPDB”) which occurred on May 6, 2013 pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).
The revised Guidebook also expands on certain areas where there has previously been uncertainty, including when an “investigation” by a health care entity has commenced. On that topic, the revised Guidebook includes additional details and examples regarding when an investigation has commenced. Specifically, the draft Guidebook provides that “an investigation is not limited to a health care entity’s gathering of facts. An investigation begins as soon as the health care entity begins an inquiry and does not end until the health care entity’s decisionmaking authority takes a final action or formally closes the investigation.” Continue reading