Doctors accused of medical malpractice or other unprofessional conduct in another state may still be able to practice in New York State. In a report analyzing 250 doctors accused of professional misconduct, USA Today found that doctors accused of running pill mills, were found liable for medical malpractice, and engaging in inappropriate relationships with their patients, are still practicing medicine – just in a different state. In most states, including New York, a doctor who voluntarily surrenders his license in a different state is not automatically disqualified from practicing medicine.
Unlike most states, however, New York even allows some doctors with felony convictions to practice medicine. Under New York’s licensing scheme for doctors, a medical board is allowed to approve or deny a doctor’s license to practice medicine in the state based on their own criteria. In circumstances where a doctor voluntarily relinquishes his or her license in another state, there is rarely a “paper trail” describing any misconduct. According to LoHud.com, some states do not track allegations of misconduct against doctors and other states do not make the information available to licensing boards in other states. This haphazard system undoubtedly endangers these doctor’s patients.
While no centralized database exists for doctors accused of professional misconduct, the Westchester daily newspaper provides its readers several tips for patients looking for more information on their healthcare providers. First, patients should check the Office of Professional Medical Conduct to see if any patients have filed official complaints against the doctor in New York. If the doctor has practiced in another state, prospective patients should also search that state’s official database. Finally, the local newspaper recommends searching the national database operated by the Federation of State Medical Boards. While this is not a fool-proof to locate every misconduct allegation against a doctor, searching these databases will undoubtedly provide more information about a doctor’s professional history. Until the medical boards responsible for licensure tighten their standards and require public disclosure for misbehaving doctors, patients will need to thoroughly research the professional history of any doctor in the state.