The NPDB is a nationwide database that serves as a repository of information about medical professionals. When a healthcare entity, such as a hospital, takes disciplinary action against a doctor for alleged ‘quality of care’ concerns, the hospital is required by federal law to report the information to the NPDB. The report is then republished by the databank each time a doctor later applies for employment or insurance. The report is permanent and can never be sealed or expunged.
The report at issue in this case was first submitted by the defendant-hospital in 2008, and was subsequently republished through the NPDB in September of 2014. Our firm filed suit in October of 2014, arguing that the claim was not time-barred by the two-year statute of limitations because the limitations period was renewed with each separate republication through NPDB. Although the hospital (the original defamer) did not directly participate later NPDB activities, the report was nonetheless actionable because the hospital intended or foresaw that such reports would be issued at a later date.
The vast majority of courts throughout the United States have held that an original defamer is liable for third-party republications if the defamer authorized the republication, intended for the republication to occur, or should reasonably have expected the republication to occur. The issue is one of first impression in Washington DC.