Patients Were Not Told of Misuse of Syringes

New York Times
Friday, November 16, 2007

State health officials notified 628 patients this week that they should be tested for hepatitis and H.I.V. infection because they were treated years ago by an anesthesiologist in Nassau County who used improper procedures for preventing the spread of blood-borne diseases.
The anesthesiologist, Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, of Plainview, first became the focus of a state health investigation in 2005 after two of his patients contracted hepatitis C. His name was reported by Newsday.
Yesterday, county and state officials traded blame over the 34-month delay in notifying the patients. At the same time, the incident led state health officials to seek a meeting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address an issue of drug packaging that was apparently at the heart of the problem.

But patients and consumer advocates said the delay from January 2005 to November 2007 was a disservice to the public.
Though Mr. Bookstaver’s illness was diagnosed almost immediately by his family doctor, he said that other patients — the 628 notified this week, for example — might not have been as lucky. “What if they have been living with these diseases all this time untreated? And thinking they had the flu?” he said.
Joanne Doroshow, director of the New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy and a member of a state task force on medical malpractice, said the case illustrated “a too-cozy relationship between the medical profession and the people who supposedly regulate them.”
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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