Statement by Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D.
ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 14, 2007) – Back in November I urged all patients who believe they received an injection before January 15, 2005, from Dr. Harvey Finkelstein in the Pain Clinic of Long Island in Plainview or the Island Orthopaedics Sports Medicine Center in Massapequa to be tested for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. Since that time the Department was able to obtain billing records from Dr. Finkelstein for these two practice sites.
Today, we are taking the extra precaution of mailing important information to 8,500 patients who were treated by Dr. Finkelstein at these sites. It is important to understand that not every patient who receives this letter is at risk of infection. The billing records do not allow us to determine who received an injection and who did not. We are urging those who did receive an injection to be tested. Those who did not receive an injection do not need to be tested. I wanted to follow up on my earlier public announcement to take this additional step to ensure that people have the information they need and everyone who should be tested gets tested. A positive test result does not mean the patient contracted the disease through Dr. Finkelstein's practices.
I also want to reassure the public that the testing results so far do not indicate an excessive number of hepatitis C cases. Typically, each month there are about 95 reports of new acute and chronic hepatitis C cases in Nassau County. Nassau County has performed preliminary testing of 133 of Dr. Finkelstein's patients and has shown 2 new preliminarily positive patients for hepatitis C and one previously known case (an rate of about 1.5%). It is estimated that at any time, approximately 1.6% of the general population will test positive for hepatitis C. We have also learned that there were four cases of hepatitis C identified among those patients of Dr. Finkelstein's patients who were tested by their private physicians. These testing results appear to be within the range of what would normally be expected. I also want to stress that we know of NO cases of acute or chronic hepatitis B or HIV transmission as a result of Dr. Finkelstein's practices.
The Health Department continues to provide assistance to Dr. Finkelstein's patients and answer their questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.