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Another Long Island Doctor Commits Malpractice By Reusing Syringes

Jan 16, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP It’s been revealed that another Long Island doctor has reused syringes when administering injections to patients.  Dr. E. Jacob Simhaee, a Manhasset-based obstetrician-gynecologist reused syringes when administering flu shots to at least 36 patients last fall.  Simhaee is not the first Long Island doctor to commit such medical malpractice.  Late last year, it was learned that Dix Hills doctor Harvey Finkelstein had infected several of his patients with blood borne diseases after reusing syringes.  

According to the New York State Department of Health, Simhaee is contacting these patients in writing. The state Department of Health composed the letter for the physician.  Simhaee was asked to sign the letter and is also contacting patients by telephone.  The state initiated its investigation of Simhaee’s practice in December following a complaint filed with the Nassau County Department of Health.

The state's release of information yesterday contrasts sharply with its handling of the Dr. Harvey Finkelstein case. It waited three years before telling the public last fall and notifying nearly 11,000 patients that Finkelstein had reused syringes—exposing thousands of patients to blood-borne pathogen infections—resulting in transmission of hepatitis C.  As of Tuesday, 13 of Finkelstein patients have tested positive for hepatitis B and nine for hepatitis C.  The state said it is impossible to determine whether Finkelstein's office was the source of these infections.  Finkelstein has more malpractice settlements than any other pain-management specialist on Long Island and, was sued, on average, once or twice yearly.  Fifteen suits concerned epidural injections; at least 10 led to settlements.  On his resume—posted on his now offline Web site—Finkelstein was described as a 1985 fellow in pediatric and cardiac anesthesia and a 1986 fellow in pain management via Stony Brook Hospital.  A hospital spokeswoman said
they were not accredited to offer fellowships in pain management until 1994, in pediatric anesthesia until recently, and are not accredited in cardiac anesthesia.

Mary Curtis, Nassau's deputy executive of health and human services said, regarding the Simhaee investigation, "It's amazing that in this amount of time, they conducted an investigation and made a notification," adding, "The state and Nassau County did a great job.  We've really learned from the past."  State senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) feels the discovery of a second such case might warrant legislative action.  "We're going to have to look into the prohibition of multiple-use vials or limiting the use of syringes to single-use syringes," he said.

As with Finkelstein, the department determined Simhaee used a single syringe, which held up to six doses, on multiple patients; infection-control procedures require a new syringe be used for each patient.  The state said no diseases have been transmitted and Simhaee has cooperated fully.  Simhaee's patients who received the flu shot between September and December are being urged to be tested for hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV and to be revaccinated against the flu.

According to Simhaee’s attorney, Craig Schaum of Garden City "This is a very highly respected doctor who has been cooperating in every way with state and county officials and will continue to do so."  Simhaee graduated in 1982 from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine at Yeshiva University in the Bronx, according to the state health department Web site; completed his graduate medical education at Maimonides Medical Center in the Bronx in obstetrics and gynecology; and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

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