Database of disciplined nurses still off-limits to nursing homes and hospitals

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Database of disciplined nurses still off-limits to nursing homes and hospitals
Database of disciplined nurses still off-limits to nursing homes and hospitals

The Department of Health and Human Services over the years has kept hidden from nursing homes and hospitals a database of nurses and other healthcare workers who have been disciplined by state licensing boards, according to a radio news outlet.

The Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank was created 22 years ago to help hospitals and nursing homes perform background checks on potential new hires. More than 102,000 names of nurses, nurse aides, pharmacists and pharmacy aides are in the database. But inefficiency and bureaucracy in the Department of Health and Human Services have held up the opening of the database for the last two decades to healthcare facilities, National Public Radio reported. The regulation to fully implement the law that would allow the facilities access to the database was never fully completed, according to the report. While states often maintain their own databases that are available for review, consumer advocates point out that healthcare workers often move from state to state, making a centralized federal database an important patient safety asset.

The regulation to allow access to the database was completed toward the end of the Bush Administration, but White House officials froze the program, opting to let the next president decide how to proceed, according to NPR. The program is under review again by the Department of Health and Human Services, and officials say they hope to have the program fully implemented by the end of the year, NPR reported.