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Patient Safety Crises in New York State

Posted by medconsumers on December 31, 2006

Center for Medical Consumers
New York Public Interest Research Group

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release:                                                                        For more information:
Monday, December 22, 2003                                                                 Arthur Levin 212 674-7105
Center for Medical Consumers
Blair Horner 518 436-0876
NYPIRG

REPORT: STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT FAILS TO PROTECT PATIENTS FROM DANGEROUS DOCS

GROUPS URGE HEVESI TO AUDIT HEALTH DEPARTMENT

PATIENT RIGHTS AND CONSUMER GROUPS URGE REFORMS TO BOOST OVERSIGHT AND IMPROVE DISCLOSURE OF HEALTH CARE INFORMATION

The New York State Health Department is failing to protect patients from dangerous doctors charged patient rights and consumer groups today. The groups documented their concerns in a report that found that the Health Department is taking fewer actions against physicians despite increased resources. The groups urged New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi to launch an investigation of the Health Department by auditing its unit that oversees physicians.

The key findings of the groups’ report, Failing To Act: New York State’s Department of Health and the Patient Safety Crisis , were:

  • New York State is taking fewer actions against physicians and physicians’ assistants (PAs), despite a doubling of resources, legal reforms and its stated goal of reducing medical injuries.
  • Of that shrinking percentage, few physicians and PAs are disciplined for reasons having to do with their competency to deliver safe and quality medical care.
  • A substantial proportion of OPMC sanctions are based the results of discipline meted out in other jurisdictions. The percentage of sanctions based on investigations originally initiated by OPMC in New York is declining.
  • A large percentage of sanctions imposed by OPMC permit physicians and PAs to continue to practice without interruption in New York State and without notification to their patients.

In addition to calling on Comptroller Hevesi to audit the OPMC, the groups recommended that the state should:

  • Disclose more information to the public about hospitals’ and physicians’ comparative safety and quality performance.
  • Require physicians to routinely demonstrate their medical skills and knowledge as a condition of continued licensure.
  • Mandate that OPMC proactively review physicians’ malpractice experience and initiate investigations as appropriate.
  • Codify the ethical requirement that health care providers and professionals inform patients or patient’s family or friends when a medical errors causing harm has occurred.
  • Require that serious patient harm occurring as a result of office-based surgery be reported to the Health Department.
  • Create an OPMC consumer assistance office to help consumers understand when a complaint is appropriate for OPMC, if not where else to seek redress, and to shepherd them through the process, including advising them about the progress of the complaint.
  • Open up The Board of Professional Medical Conduct to increased public membership, include public members in leadership positions, and permit hearing and appeals panels in some cases, to consist of a majority of public members.
  • Punish physicians and providers who don’t report observed medical misconduct as is required by law.

For complete text of report click here.

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