FYI-ABC Nightline Wed. 9/20/00-Doctors' Privacy Over Patients' Rights.

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Posted by Enrique Geiger ( on September 20, 2000 at 16:53:38:

11:35 p.m. ET and PT

Should American consumers have the same right to know the backgrounds of their doctors as hospitals do? Tonight, Nightline focuses on the debate in Congress over opening up the National Practitioner Data Bank.

The data bank, created by Congress in 1986 as a tool for hospitals, health maintenance organizations and other medical professionals, is not open to the public. It contains data on malpractice lawsuits, settlements, hospital suspensions, and state disciplinary actions filed against medical professionals, including more than 100,000 physicians.

Rep. Thomas Bliley, R-Va., has introduced legislation, modeled after a state data bank in Massachusetts, that would allow the public to see this information. Under Bliley's plan, the data bank would also provide contextual data so consumers would know, for example, how many malpractice lawsuits might be typical for a particular specialty. The powerful physicians lobby, the American Medical Association, opposes opening the data bank on the grounds that such raw data could be "misleading" to patients.

Tonight, Nightline will look at the debate, hear from one man who believes such information could have saved his wife's life, and talk to two investigative reporters from the Hartford Courant who were able to crack the data bank and expose eight of the country's worst doctors.

Chris Bury, ABCNEWS Nightline Correspondent
Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2000
Nightline Office, Washington, D.C.

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