amednews: Law enforcement can access data bank without doctors’ knowledge :: Dec. 13, 2011 … American Medical News

Well, this is good news. Remember that we were assured the information in the NPDB would be protected? Yeah, me too.

And, I don’t understand this move at all.

Law enforcement can access data bank without doctors’ knowledge

The rule, a response to the expansion of the National Practitioner Data Bank, is intended to help prevent evidence tampering.

By Carolyne Krupa, amednews staff. Posted Dec. 13, 2011.

Physicians and other health professionals no longer will be notified if someone accesses information about them through the National Practitioner Data Bank for an investigation, according to a federal rule that takes effect Dec. 23.

The rule, an exemption to the Privacy Act, is meant to prevent tampering with evidence and is limited to law enforcement agencies, said David Bowman, a spokesman for the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, which administers the data bank.

Umm, prevent tampering with WHAT evidence? by the time something’s being put in the NPDB, it’s know about by a lot of folks, and there isn’t any realy opportunity to ‘tamper with evidence’. This sounds exceptionally fishy to me. I need a better explanation than this. (I know I won’t get it).

Oh, and spot the problem with this logic (which I’ll point out after the quote):

Law enforcement agencies are authorized to see information on adverse actions against physicians such as medical board disciplinary actions and peer review sanctions. Such queries make up less than 1% of NPDB queries, with an average of 20 by law enforcement annually, according to the rule (

via amednews: Law enforcement can access data bank without doctors’ knowledge :: Dec. 13, 2011 … American Medical News.

When Law Enforcement was required to notify people they’d had a look at their records, their query rate was less than 1%. Now that they can do it secretly, what will that rate be? We’ll never know.


  1. I can explain the “tampering”, although I don’t think the rule change is the appropriate way to deal with this.

    The concern is that the subject of a criminal investigation would be made aware of the criminal investigation, and could then take action to destroy other evidence. The concern is not tampering with NPDB data. It’s the concern of many investigators that if you give the subject advance warning, they will destroy the other evidence. It’s the reason search warrants are not sent to targets a few days before the search.

    I would rather see a court order requirement for any queries that will not be reported. It’s too easy for LEOs to go fishing in databases. If there really is a valid investigation, they should be able to provide a justification to a judge explaining why the target should not be informed.