The Physician Profiling Service, which was brought into law in 2000 by Governor George Pataki, makes it compulsory for registered doctors in New York to make public details of their professional histories and education, including any malpractice suits that may have been taken against them.
Howard Beach resident Patricia Donnelly campaigned for the passing of the “Patient Health Information and Quality Improvement Act,” along with New York mothers Caren Catinella and Ilene Corina, whose children died from complications during minor surgeries.
Donnelly’s own four-year-old grandson Harry died on the operating table during a routine operation to remove adenoids and place tubes in his ears in 1997. The New York State Senate named Donnelly a “Woman of Distinction” in 2001, for her work.
Since the passing of the law, Donnelly has protested that the lack of publicity to promote the Physician Profiling Service, which allows patients to either look at physician’s records online or order them in hard copy for a small fee, kept the information from getting into the right hands.
Limerick mother of two Kay Cregan might have benefited from the service before traveling to New York last March, where she died on St. Patrick’s Day after a botched nose job performed by New York plastic surgeon Michael Sachs. Had she glanced at his profile, she would have seen that Sachs had made 33 malpractice payments in 10 years and that he had been banned from performing complex nasal procedures unless assisted by an experienced plastic surgeon.
To date, advertising of the Physician Profiling Service has been limited to posters in clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals. However, the DOH is currently finalizing the details of a public information advertisement that they expect to air on television stations throughout New York City and State by next month.
“It will be a 30-second public announcement advert that focuses on making people aware of how important the physician profiling service is, as well as the importance of building up a good, professional relationship with their doctors,” according to DOH spokesperson Robert C. Kenny.
“We’re finalizing a deal to do a statewide television advertising. The goal is to have the ads out either at the end of this month or the beginning of March.”
The advertising campaign comes following the launch at the beginning of February of a centralized, toll-free hospital complaint hotline for members of public.
The DOH hotline, which can be reached by dialing 1-800-804-5447, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Members of the public can call with any concerns regarding the conditions or services provided by licensed hospitals, community health clinics and diagnostic and treatment centers statewide. Complaints that are deemed urgent will be investigated immediately.
According to the DOH, both the hotline and the Physician Profiling Service are small steps in the journey towards making the New York State health service more transparent for patients.
“We are in the process of adding hospital complaint data to the New York
State Hospital profile web site,” said Kenny.
“We expect that to be available to the public within the next month.”
Donnelly said she was, “thrilled” when she heard about the advertising campaign.
“I’m so pleased that the State are looking out for patients in New York. I would like to thank the Irish Echo for their coverage and (New York State) Senator Frank Padavan, who wrote to the Department Of Health of the necessity of promoting the law.”
The Physician Profiling Service is available by logging on to www.nydoctorprofile.com or calling 1-888-338-6999, toll free.