September 01, 2013


 National Provider Identifier numbers not for veterinarians

Veterinarians are ineligible to receive a type of federal identification number used by health care providers in human medicine for some transactions, such as filling prescriptions.

Dr. Lynne A. White-Shim, an assistant director of the AVMA Scientific Activities Division, said officials with the Department of Health and Human Services recently confirmed that veterinarians are ineligible to receive National Provider Identifier numbers, even though applicants can indicate they are veterinarians in the online form. The AVMA previously received reports that pharmacies have requested such numbers from veterinarians. Dr. White-Shim suggested that veterinarians who receive such requests offer to instead provide their state-issued license number.

Information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is part of the HHS, also indicates that veterinarians are ineligible for NPIs, and any ineligible person who has received such a number should send a request that the number be deactivated. The form for updating or deactivating an NPI is available here.

A January 2004 Federal Register notice states that the NPIs were established as standard identification intended to simplify administration of the health care system and aid electronic transmission of health information. Each health care provider could have a different identification number from each federal or private health care plan, complicating the claim submission process and potentially resulting in multiple providers using the same numbers for different plans.