Medical Malpractice Trial On Poor Infection Control Practices. The Dix Hills doctor at the center of a New York State Department of Health investigation involving poor infection control practices settled a 2004 medical malpractice lawsuit after admitting in court that records presented as evidence during the trial contained discrepancies. Apparently, the State Health Department was not aware of the record discrepancies uncovered by the 2004 malpractice case against Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, and it has not commented on whether these latest revelations would trigger yet another investigation into the practices of the Long Island anesthesiologist.
Finkelstein is already at the center of an investigation into poor infection control procedures that could have exposed hundreds of people too serious by blood borne diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV. The medical malpractice occurring at Finkelstein’s practice first came to the attention of the Nassau County Health Department in December 2004, when it was discovered that two people with Hepatitis C had been treated by Finkelstein, and had received spinal injections at his Long Island practice. In January 2005, state and local health officials investigating the Dix Hills doctor visited Finkelstein to watch him work. The investigators saw Finkelstein reuse syringes on a patient, resulting in a backflow of blood from the previous patient. Apparently, the Dix Hills doctor routinely reused syringes in this way.
Patients Who Had Received Spinal Injection Could Be At Risk.
The Nassau County Health Department initially informed 98 of Finkelstein’s patients who had received spinal injection on nine dates in 2004 that they could be at risk. In July 2006, state health department officials decided to seek out all patients who had received injections from Finkelstein between Jan. 1, 2000, and Jan. 15, 2005. It took more than a year for the Nassau County Health Department to go through Finkelstein’s records and determine which patients might have been exposed to blood borne pathogens. The health department sent out 628 letters in November, informing people who had been treated by Finkelstein that they are at risk for HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B. But because health officials do not have all of the Dix Hills doctor’s medical records, the true number of people potentially exposed to these diseases is not known, and could reach numbers above 1,000. For that reason, the health department is asking anyone who received injections from Finkelstein to get tested for blood borne pathogens, even if they did not receive a health department letter.
The latest revelations of possible misconduct on the part of Finkelstein stem from a 2004 malpractice trial. At that trial, Finkelstein testified under oath that he was never informed by the man suing him that the patient was HIV positive. The Dix Hills doctor also presented what he said were the patient’s medical records – which had no mention of HIV status – as proof that the plaintiff had withheld his medical condition. The only problem was that the plaintiff’s lawyer had obtained a copy of the true medical records that noted that the patient was HIV positive in the Dix Hills doctor’s own handwriting. When Finkelstein was challenged with the true records, he had no explanation, except to say that it was possible he mistakenly left out the information regarding the HIV status when he copied the records to send them to a hospital. The trial then ended, with the Dix Hills doctor agreeing to settle the medical malpractice lawsuit for just under $1 million.
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