New York Improves Its Aggressive Action to Weed Out Bad Doctors, According to National Survey
Albany, April 2 -- New data from the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States demonstrate a substantial improvement in New York's efforts in physician discipline compared with other states, State Health Commissioner Barbara A. DeBuono, M.D., announced today.
These data reflect the Pataki Administration's commitment to protecting New Yorkers from physicians who engage in fraud, sexual abuse and other violations of the doctor-patient relationship. Of all states, New York took the greatest number of disciplinary actions during 1995 that resulted in revocation, suspension or loss ofprivileges, and ranked second in total actions taken against physicians for unprofessional conduct, according to data released today by the Federation.
"This should serve as a warning and a clear demonstration that New York State will not tolerate unprofessional conduct by physicians," Dr. DeBuono said.
New York took a record 324 disciplinary actions in 1995, a 20 percent increase since Governor Pataki took office. These figures include the 13 physicians who had their right to practice immediately suspended by Commissioner DeBuono because they were considered to be an imminent danger to the public health.
"We have set a record for decisive action to protect the public from danger by suspending licenses of doctors who threaten our citizens'health," Dr. DeBuono said. "I am proud that we are moving aggressively to protect vulnerable patients from doctors who abuse their trust."
Actions taken by state medical boards across the country during 1995 increased 7.4 percent over 1994, while New York increased its actions by128 percent during the period, according to Federation data. States took action against medical practice act violations including sexual misconduct, insurance fraud, incompetence and substance abuse.
New York's new aggressive posture has affected doctors' attitudes when professional misconduct charges have been filed. "More than 175doctors have voluntarily given up their licenses or agreed to accept punitive action since Governor Pataki took office," Dr. DeBuono said."They know that we are very serious about upholding high professional,moral and ethical standards for physicians who practice in New York. We won't permit doctors to engage in fraud, to sexually abuse their patients,or to be negligent in providing care."
New York can fine physicians up to $10,000 for each count of professional misconduct, revoke or suspend their licenses, require physicians to undergo community service or retraining, censure or reprimand them, and require that a physician's day-to-day protocol be monitored by a State-appointed observer to ensure appropriate treatment of patients.
The Federation uses a complex formula of ratios to create an index that gauges the disciplinary activity by each state. New York's index of 7.19 made it the 11th most active state -- up from 23rd in 1994 -- in the nation. Based on the Federation's calculations, Arizona was the most active state and the District of Columbia the least active during 1995.
The Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, headquartered in Euless, Texas, is a non-profit organization representing the medical licensing and disciplinary boards in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
4/2/96-39OPA Contact: Claudia Hutton, Director, Public Affairs (518) 474-7354
New York State Department of Health Posted 4/23/96