NPDB Reporting Deadlines Remain Firm Despite COVID-19 Emergency
In its May 2020 “NPDB Insights” newsletter, the NPDB posted the following commonly-asked question:
My organization is extremely busy due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is unable to fully conduct investigations and hearings. If we summarily suspend a practitioner’s privileges during this time, will the NPDB allow us to hold off on submitting the report until we are able to complete a full investigation?
The NPDB answered the question by confirming that adverse action reports are still due within 30 days of the action, stating:
We recognize that these are unprecedented times and hospitals and other health care entities are facing challenges never before encountered. Similarly, there has never been a more critical moment for accurate and timely NPDB information than the current one. We remain committed to ensuring the dependability of the NPDB as a valuable workforce tool and as such will not be pausing the reporting of any required information.
Health care entities are statutorily required to report any professional review action that adversely affects the clinical privileges of a physician or dentist for more than 30 days. Hence, a summary suspension meeting this statutory requirement is reportable to the NPDB. On a later date, after the investigation has been completed, if the reporting organization determines no action should have been taken and the practitioner's summary suspension is vacated, the reporting organization should void the report. However if the summary suspension is upheld and a subsequent action is taken, a revision to the action should be submitted. If you wish, you may add language to the narrative section of the report indicating an investigation relating to the summary suspension has yet to be conducted due to competing matters.
Based on this guidance, health care facilities and other reporting entities should not delay reporting adverse actions, even if their investigations into the licensee’s care are not yet complete due to competing priorities created by the COVID-19 epidemic. However, with the assistance of legal counsel, reporting entities may consider drafting the description of action to reflect the status of the investigation and any impact COVID-19 has to delay fact-finding.