Patients protected by new safety bill

June 24, 2008 2:51:04 PM PDT
There are new steps tonight to keep patients safe in new york and they stem from a case on Long Island. Eyewitness News told you about Dr. Harvey Finkelstein who put thousands of patients at risk by resuing syringe vials and it took years for the patients to be notified.

This bill would speed that up.

Doctors like Kenneth Steier can expect a lot of changes, immediate changes when it comes to the way they practice caring for patients in New York State.

Dr. Steier is the Patient Safety Oficcer at Nassau University Medical Center and says the new patient safety bill announced yesterday by Governor David Paterson is long overdue.

It is documented there are up to 98,000 deaths per year in medical misadventures so theres a large patient safety movement," said Dr. Steier.

As part of New York's new crackdown on the medical profession, the patient safety bill requires that charges against doctors be made public within five days, as long as state investigators decide to go ahead with a hearing.

It also considers it professional misconduct if office materials are not produced within one day during a state investigation.

Doctors will also be required to update their online physician profiles every six months

And the new bill allows the state to stop dangerous activity immediately. Meaning a doctor even though innocent until proven guilty, could be stopped from practicing during the investigation.

"I think physicians will be more conscious and try to stick with guidelines," adds Dr. Steier.

But The entire bill, according to some state lawmakers is 100 percent based on one doctor. Long Island doctor Harvey Finkelstein. A man accused of reusing syringes in multidose vials .

More than 10,000 of his patients received notifications last fall saying they could be at risk for hepatitis and HIV, but due to alleged negotiations between the state and the doctor notifications took three years before going out.

Officials say the bill goes into effect immediately, though some sections will be phased in between now and January 1st.

STORY BY: Eyewitness News Long Island reporter Emily Smith