Thirty-year-old Lisa Smart died at Beth Israel Medical Center during a routine uterine fibroid removal procedure in 1997. A state investigation found that the doctors performing the operation had a track record of negligence. In fact, one of the doctors was on probation for professional misconduct at the time.

The woman’s family and other patient advocates fought for the state creation of a website that provides free background information about doctors and NY malpractice lawsuit payouts, which was signed into law by former Governor George Pataki in 2000.

Now Andrew Cuomo wants to do away with the website as part of a proposed budget cut. Attorneys at The Sanders Firm say this move would put more patients at risk of botched surgeries that are all too common in New York City, leaving patients few options but to seek a medical malpractice lawsuit after the fact.

Website helps patients prevent tragedies

Ilene Corina of Long Island helped with the lobbying efforts to get the physician profile website up and running. Her 3-year-old son bled to death following a routine tonsillectomy. “We need to empower patients to be more involved in their care and use these services even more, not take it away,” she said.

The state Health Department runs the website, which attracted over 35,000 visitors in December. Patients can find detailed information on medical education, certification and training, as well as disciplinary actions and settlements paid.

After a hard fight with the state Medical Society, the first two malpractice settlement claims are excluded on doctor profiles, so patients will only see doctors that have settled three or more cases over the last 10 years. They will not see the exact dollar amounts paid – but rather, an indication of average, below average, or above average payouts.

Cuomo says physician profile website is unnecessary

A two-sentence item buried in Cuomo’s proposed budget says that taking down the website would save the state $1.2 million a year, and that patients can find the same information elsewhere. Much of the information is compiled from HealthGrades, WebMD, the Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Board of Medical Specialties websites, for instance.

However, some of these sites require registration and/or fees of up to $9.95 per physician search. Furthermore, it is the only state-stamped site with verified credibility available to consumers, and physicians are legally required to provide complete and accurate information to the state-run website – or risk charges of professional misconduct.

“They are just making it harder for consumers to shop smart for doctors,” argues Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, who says his organization is doing everything possible “to kill the governor’s proposal.” The final budget is due by March 31st.

Assistance filing a NY medical malpractice lawsuit

Unfortunately, many patients do not discover that they chose the wrong doctor until it’s too late. The Sanders Firm trial attorneys have over 45 years of experience fighting for the rights of injured New Yorkers and the families of the deceased. We have the resources and experience to establish reasonable standards of care and take your claim to trial. For a free case review, please call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.

We serve all of New York City, including in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, and Long Island. Resources

  1. – Cuomos wants to pull plug on website that reveals malpractice info about docs
  2. – Young woman’s death in routine operation led to creation of doctor profile website
  3. NY Daily News – Cuomo plan to nix doctor info website criticized