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Physician Can Sue Hospital Over False NPDB Report

July 5, 2012

A hospital that allegedly provided false information to the National Practitioner Databank may be held liable for both intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

In the case Sheikh v. Grant Regional Health Center (11-cv-1-wmc, W.D. Wisconsin) (opinion here), a Federal District Court denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss IIED and NIED claims, stating that a jury could infer both that placing false information on the NPDB was intended to cause a physician emotional harm and that the harm is sufficiently severe to sustain claims for both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Quotes from the court include

“This court finds that intentionally and knowingly publishing false information in a national database for the sole purpose of harming that person is the type of conduct that a reasonable jury could find to be extreme and outrageous.”

and

“A reasonable jury could certainly find a person has suffered “an extreme disabling response” as a result of having false and disparaging information published about them on a national database and being precluded by that information from obtaining future employment in their chosen profession, particularly if years were spent in qualifying one’s self for that work.”

Because damages in cases such as this may include a physician’s past and future lost wages, the potential liability can be significant if a hospital loses such a case.

Hospitals may be able to avoid liability for NIED and IIED claims related to NPBD reporting by verifying the accuracy of any information reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

If a hospital threatens to report untrue or inaccurate information about a physician to the NPDB, the physician may help to establish a hospital’s liability for doing so by putting the hospital on notice that the information is not true. Either the physician or the physician’s attorney sending the hospital administrator or the hospital attorney a certified letter or fax stating how the information is inaccurate and demanding that the hospital refrain from reporting the information might be a good first step to heading off problems in the future.

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