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License to Malpractice

Some of you might have heard about the doctor in New York, Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, who risked exposing over 600 people to HIV, hepatitis and other deadly diseases by reusing syringes. Among the many horrendous practices brought to light with this case, there are two that particularly highlight issues with the state’s health officials and medical board.

State health officials delayed the public release of the information to patients, which inexcusably delayed testing and possible treatment for those exposed. Then the state’s medical board incredibly found “no evidence of wrongdoing.”

Unfortunately, this is by no means a singular example of the worst medical malpractice offenders being ignored by the New York State Medical Board. Of the 127 doctors in New York who have made 10 or more malpractice payments since 1990, less than one-third have had reportable licensure actions taken against them.

It is clear that we need to fix the system that allows monstrous unaccountability like Finkelstein. As our Director, Laura MacCleery, put it, “The ‘I’ll scratch your back’ culture in medicine, in which doctors have claimed they are competent to police themselves, must end before more people are killed by criminal negligence.”

Stay tuned for Public Citizen’s upcoming in-depth analysis of the state of medical malpractice and insurance in New York.