Use of the National Practitioner Databank by Expert Witnesses


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For medical expert witnesses, the National Practitioner Data Bank or NPDB is a great source of information about events, those involved in the issues and malpractice for the healthcare world. Through the databank, these experts are able to coordinate details, problematic events and errors that are made by others.

Expert witnesses are hired to clear up confusion, connect evidence and explain various details to the judge or jury when something needs clarification or association. When the matter is in the healthcare world, it may become more difficult when negligence or a malpractice suit lacks details or evidence. When the professional is able to use the NPDB, he or she may provide the claim more strength. There are numerous pieces of information that are gathered through past events, additional witnesses and hospital staff. These details are able to connect an event to a specific doctor and injury.

Through use of the NPDB, past malpractice events could align to current events and assist the professional in discovering a correlation based on the physician or other medical staff. With the centralized information dealing with healthcare errors and problems, an expert witness is more easily able to connect negligence to the current claim. This helps to reduce other issues when a victim has been injured through a hospital procedure, and when all the data has been gathered and collected in one spot, the professionals involved may obtain it quickly and efficiently. This may reduce the time the case takes to resolve.

Access to the Records in the NPDB

The reports and information contained within the databank is not available to the public. However, those that have access to the data are those that work within the healthcare world such as medical malpractice payers, entities of healthcare, hospitals, staff, licensing agents, state boards and members and those that work with healthcare plans. An expert that has been a medical staff member may be able to access the databank, or if he or she has worked for a hospital. However, the lawyer working the case may have no authority to copy the reports and events. The expert witness becomes invaluable at this point.

Critical data is available to the public such as reports and statistics for malpractice incidents, payments and similar items for practitioner status. The distributed awards for malpractice suits are obtained through search tools with the NPDB, and this may be used by the expert to generate and understand how much compensation should be requested by the client in his or her own injury and incident. However, the more information the expert is able to acquire, the greater understanding and basis may be applied to the claim. This may strengthen certain items and lead to additional evidence.

The Benefits of Use of the NPDB

The greatest benefits of an expert witness being able to access and have permission to obtain information from the databank is the ability to connect evidence to previous issues. The current doctor in the claim may have been sued for malpractice in previous incidents. There may be a trend of physicians not following the necessary guidelines in the hospital where the victim was injured. Additional data may assist in creating visual aids with statistics and other details that greatly improve the strength of the claim. Some descriptions of cases may also corroborate what has occurred with the client.

While there are many benefits to access, it is crucial to acquire the most appropriate information relevant to the claim. This may include negative actions due to the doctor’s privileges in the hospital, negative findings due to peer review of the physician’s actions, federal or state programs for healthcare and similar items. Findings of medical malpractice through judgment with a judge or jury is often the most important when connecting one doctor to prior negligence or injury claims. For compensation claims, previous compensation payouts are important so that the expert witness is able to explain how much should be sought in the specific incident. This helps in knowing what is possible.

Expert Testimony with the NPDB

Once the information has been gathered, it may be applied to the current case. The expert is tasked with explaining to the court how certain incidents may be connected. The doctor could have been negligent in his or her duties previously and this may have occurred again. Similar complications with the healthcare facility may have been found in the new injuries. Then, the expert may detail how compensation is needed and just how much should be awarded based on the situation.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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