- All payments made in response to medical malpractice claims under state liability laws must be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, according to a new ruling by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- This new ruling includes payments for claims that are settled outside of court. All payments made by any entity—payers, hospitals or other parties—to settle a claim or judgment against a provider has to be reported to the data bank, even when the provider is not ruled to be at fault.
- The decision was meant to address laws in Massachusetts and Oregon, where states have created programs to encourage settling claims and providing payments outside of the legal system. Though it was focused on these two states, it could affect others as they create similar legislation.
It is likely that the two states, and others looking at passing similar legislation, were trying to keep cases out of the courtroom, rather than out of the reporting process. The goal of this law isn't to reduce payments to patients, but to reinforce the purpose of the data bank—hospitals should be reporting any time a financial payout is made from a liability claim.