National Practitioner Data Bank


Source U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
File Size entire US — 262 MB
Dates Covered September 1990 – August 2011
Cost Snapshot

  • Nonmembers $0
  • Members $0
Categories: ,


This file is an August, 2011, download from the National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File. On Sept. 1 the federal government removed the data, which had been publicly available since 1990.Investigative Reporters and Editors, along with the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Professional Journalists, is protesting this removal of public information. IRE has also filed a FOIA request to receive the most recent version of this data set.

IRE/NICAR processed this data set from August and is making it publicly available online to anyone. Simply go to and download the entire dataset ( or a state slice.

Please read all files pertaining to the data set before using it. In particular the Readme1101-DAT.pdf provides information for this data set in terms of record layout and definitions of terms.


The National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use Files contains information about doctors and other health care practitioners who have had medical malpractice suits filed or adverse action taken against them. The information has been redacted or altered to remove details that could identify a particular practitioner.

This database includes information on malpractice payment and adverse licensure, clinical privileges, professional society membership and adverse actions concerning physicians, dentists and other licensed health care professionals. Authorized health care organizations, insurance companies and government authorities can access the full version of the National Practitioners Databank for background checks or to enter new reports.

Although names are not included in the public version, some news organizations have been able to use this database with other public data, including court records, to determine the identity of individual practitioners in the past. Since that time, however, the public use file has been changed to obscure potentially identifying details. For example, the field indicating year of medical school graduation has been changed to a decade, i.e. 1980s or 1990s, and malpractice award totals are given in ranges, not exact figures.

Record layouts and samples of this database

Main documentation (readme.txt) 17.9 KB
Data sample (npdb100.xls) 95.0 KB
Record layout (layout.txt) 16.5 KB
Schema (NPDB.pdf) 193.3 KB

Related Tipsheets

  • National Practitioner Data Bank, etc
    This tipsheet is made up of a list of websites where you can find information on medical practitioners ranging from medical licensing data to malpractice and disciplinary information.
  • Medical Malpractice
    This tipsheet is comprised of a list of resources on medical malpractice. Included are sites where you can find disciplinary data and records, databases of medical malpractice settlements, and civil suits.
  • Investigating Medical Malpractice
    This tipsheet lists website that can help reporters get information about doctors and their histories of medical malpractice claims. The list includes the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Practitioners Databank. All together there are seven websites listed.

Related Stories

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    Nevada is experiencing a “medical malpractice crisis” in which doctors are leaving the state in droves because their malpractice premiums have skyrocketed. Frank Mullen realizes that Nevadans could find out more about a contractor or car mechanic’s legal record than a legal record of their doctors’ malpractice settlements. The Nevada legislature recently reformed this, but still, the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners’ information about doctors is often incomplete and sometimes wrong. The newspaper reviewed databases and documents, and cracked the code of a federal medical database.
  • White Coats, Dark Secrets: Dangerous Doctors
    This series investigates several doctors who, despite multiple malpractice suits and disciplinary action, continue to practice medicine. McIntire and Dolan examine the arguments for and against making the National Practitioner Data Bank, a list of disciplinary actions against doctors, open to the public. The reporters write about several patients who have been permanently damaged or killed in the care of doctor’s whose names are in that database.
  • Special Treatment: Disciplining Doctors
    Hospitals and state medical boards across the United States have given physicians repeated chances to keep practicing, despite well-documented alcohol and drug problems. Even doctors that have criminal records do not have their doctor’s licenses revoked. This is due partially to the practice that allows doctors to move to another state and start a new job before the paperwork being slowly processed caught up with them. It is also due to loopholes in the National Practitioner Data Bank.
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