Friday, November 16, 2007

Dirty Needle Doctor

The recent press about Dr. Harvey Finkelstein has really got me in a tailspin. Just when you think we may be making headway, New York proves we are light years behind in protecting patients.

First, how bad must this doctor be if he didn’t know basic infection control procedures? If he didn’t know, he should be closed down immediately - and if he did know but didn’t follow the procedures, he should have been closed down immediately. But instead, our state Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct kept him open for business while monitoring him allowing him access to more patients and opportunities of spreading more disease and ruining more lives.

Second, what was going on that took the OPMC so long in this investigation? He either didn’t know procedures or he did. (see above) either way, he should have some kind of discipline to make sure he doesn’t think he can get away with not knowing what most medical students (so I have heard a lot about recently) learn in the beginning of their career, basic infection control methods.

This guy is a scapegoat. He’s not the first person to get away with bad behavior in our states disciplining process. He’s one who got caught. With the lack of transparency we have no idea what goes on when a doctor is being investigated – or not. There is no reason we shouldn’t post physicians who are being investigated unless the OPMC investigates unnecessarily. If they don’t investigate for sound reason, let the public know that there is, in fact an investigation going on.

Just look at this guys profile he’s got 10 malpractice payments since 1998 – 5 above average. He only graduated in 1981. Hardly something a patient should ignore. Don’t tell me anesthesiologists get sued regularly. I went to the same website and out of the first 15 anesthesiologists I looked at (in alphabetical order to make it fair), only one had a malpractice payout listed.

Surely someone is not doing their job. After 3 malpractice payouts, shouldn’t someone be looking a little bit deeper at the doctor’s practice?

Its not like patients or surviving family members have too many choices how to proceed if they are not satisfied with their care. They either complain to the facility, go to the state Department of Health or find a lawyer to take their case. In this instance the DOH let the public down by not disciplining the doctor or at least shutting him down immediately, allowing him to control what patients names get shared for the investigation and which names don’t therefore delaying the information getting to the public. The DOH waited until the statute of limitations of 2.5 years ran out. So now what does the public have to count on to protect us?
Thank goodness for the press.

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