Rockland legislation targets dangerous doctors

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In the wake of a Long Island doctor accused of misusing syringes and possibly spreading diseases, two Rockland lawmakers are proposing legislation to make physicians accountable and protect patients.

Dr. Harvey Finkelstein is at the center of the Long Island case. Health officials believe his misuse of syringes caused two patients to be infected with hepatitis C. The accusations are sending shockwaves throughout the medical community. Finkelstein is still practicing and will not be charged with a felony. The state health department says authorities advised him on proper procedures after they observed his technique in January 2005.

All of that came as quite a shock to Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City) and Senator Thomas Morahan (R-New City). Together, they immediately started drafting legislation to make physicians accountable and give patients recourse.

The legislation would allow a doctor in a similar case to be charged with a felony. It would also ensure the health department notifies patients in a timely manner. Lastly, the new law would give patients some sort of recourse so they can sue the physicians in a civil court.

As many as 630 patients may have been exposed to hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV, under the care of Dr. Finkelstein. Zebrowski and Morahan are hoping that won't happen to anyone else.Associated Press wire reports contributed to this story.

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