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Complaint against doctor pines away in state bureaucracy

Posted by Administrator (admin) on Jun 23 2008 at 5:33 PM
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New York - A Hicksville man says that he contracted hepatitis C in Dr. Harvey Finkelstein office. Expecting a prompt response, Bookstaver filed a complaint against Finkelstein in July 2005. However, just about three years later, Bookstaver said Thursday that the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) had not told him the results of its probe. According to Bookstaver, OPMC have not even interviewed him yet.

Claudia Hutton, a state Department of Health spokeswoman, said that Bookstaver’s complaint was closed last September, even so OPMC neglected to inform him.

"We apologize for the error," Hutton said.

Hutton said Bookstaver, 50, will shortly receive a letter stating that the case had been resolved without any penalizing action. The letter will mention nothing about if Bookstaver was infected in Finkelstein's office.

"Oh, that's very nice of them! It just boggles the mind how they don't care," Bookstaver said.

Finkelstein is the Dix Hills doctor who the state Department of Health says put thousands of patients at risk of blood-borne pathogen infections by reusing syringes.

It was in July 2004 that Bookstaver received epidural spinal injections for back pain from Finkelstein. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in October 2004. He decided to file his complaint after getting a May 2005 Health Department letter saying Finkelstein patients were at risk.

Recently, Finkelstein settled a medical malpractice lawsuit with a Syosset man who claimed he contracted hepatitis C in Finkelstein’s office.  Finkelstein continues to practice and has now settled a record 11 malpractice lawsuits in eight years.

New York is among only a small number of states that do not name doctors if they are not found guilty of misconduct. And, New York does not hold public disciplinary hearings too.  A hearing was never held in Finkelstein’s case although the doctor was placed under state monitoring for three years. The state never advised Bookstaver about this. Nor did they determine how Bookstaver was infected.

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