You feel that your doctor mistreated you or worse, botched an operation. What do you do?
The medical profession has a code of conduct for healthcare members to abide by. This is crucial to relieve suffering and promote the well-being of patients regardless of the race, religion, ethnicity or class they belong to. It is also important to ensure that the clinical team is equipped with honest and dedicated professionals.
To maintain and optimize a physician’s discipline in NY, there’s the New York Medical Conduct Program.
What is the New York Medical Conduct Program?
Each year, hundreds and thousands of complaints are lodged against physicians in New York. While just about every NY licensed physician is honorable and dedicated to treating patients and saving lives, accidents do happen, sometimes negligently and sometimes just due to the misfortune of something happening beyond their control.
The State Board for Professional Medical Conduct, New York and the Health Department’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) aim to investigate and adjust complaints filed against the physicians, assistants or other medical staff associated with the particular complaint. Each year the OPMC and the state board tackle these complaints and school the clinical staff members against which the complaints are lodged.
The committee consists of two-thirds of experienced physicians and one-third of lay members, which could also be physician assistants. Who decides which physicians will be on the board? Well, the physicians are appointed by the state, county and specialty medical societies in the USA.
On the other hand, the lay members are nominated by the commissioner of health and the governor of the state. The committee members are chosen through strict surveillance to ensure they are fair, professional and well-suited for the job.
Who Can File Complaints About NY Professional Misconduct?
The majority of the complaints against medical staff come from the public, including patients, colleagues and sometimes family members. Basically, anyone with a solid objection against a healthcare professional can lodge a complaint.
All licensed health specialists are required to report coworkers whom they may suspect of misconduct. If a professional physician, physician assistant, special assistant or anyone on the clinical staff sees that their colleague’s actions are susceptible, they should contact OMPC immediately. In case the colleague is affiliated with another hospital, but you’re aware of his/her misconduct, you can report to the county medical society of the state you are in, which will report to OPMC.
Please note that all calls and complaints are confidential, so you don’t need to worry about your identity getting revealed. In case you’re not sure if your colleague’s questionable actions constitute wrongdoing, you can contact OPMC and get their advice on it without revealing the practitioner’s identity.
What Needs to be Reported?
Many times, OPMC fails to take any legal action due to a lack of sufficient evidence for a charge of misconduct against a professional physician. However, this should not stop you from taking the right action, i.e., file a complaint against the wrongdoer.
Physicians should be charged with misconduct if they admit they failed to provide adequate medical assistance to their patient or they did not properly monitor their condition or treatment. Physicians should also be reported in the following circumstances:
- They exploited a patient for sexual favors
- Conducted inappropriate moral behavior
- Being careless with a patient’s treatment
- Practicing under the influence of drug or alcohol
- Being impaired by physical or mentally
- Being biased or unfair due to a patient’s cultural, ethnical, or religious background
- Practicing on a suspended license
- Failing to fulfill a patient’s request concerning medical assistance
- Revealing a patient’s personal data or medical history without the patient’s consent
- Ordering a patient for unnecessary tests or treatments
- Allowing unlicensed professionals to perform professional services
- Failing to maintain an accurate medical record of the patient
What Happens After a Complaint is Lodged?
Once a complaint is lodged against a medical professional, OPMC reviews it and investigates the medical staff. Many times, the complaints come up due to miscommunication or misunderstanding and thus do not constitute misconduct.
Misconduct issues are handed over to investigators that interview the complainants and those against whom the complaints have been raised. Interviews are usually carried out through email, phone or one-to-one chat.
If the board members find a certain physician guilty, they are authorized to take action against the professional. For example, they can suspend the physician’s license for a certain period of time until the offender completes training education or rehabilitation. The board may also exempt the physician from performing a certain type of practice or limit their practice to a specific region. The punishment is usually decided based on the nature of the offense conducted by the malefactor.
The Office of Professional Medical Conduct aims to take disciplinary and other actions against physicians, physician assistants and special assistants. The purpose is solely to ensure all the practitioners follow the code of conduct and provide top-class medical assistance to all patients in New York.
If you know a colleague who has been involved in the above-stated misconduct or if you have personally experienced a doctor misbehaving with you or mishandling your case, you should follow up with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) so that the issue is not repeated with other patients.