What a New Transparency Proposal Could Mean for New York Malpractice Suits


As part of his 2020 State of the State Agenda, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced a proposal including several sweeping changes and reforms that he believes should be made within the New York Department of Health. Most of the recommended changes within this 36th proposal of the Agenda specifically pertain to the Office of Professional Medical Conduct within that Department.

Through these reforms, the Governor intends to significantly improve the OPMC’s capacity to ensure practicing physicians in New York are not causing undue harm to patients, as well as to investigate and, if necessary, punish negligent doctors. The governor also wants to increase transparency for New York residents regarding physicians’ disciplinary records, as well as about ongoing investigations into physician conduct.

While this transparency proposal would not directly change any of the filing requirements for a medical malpractice claim in New York, it could greatly simplify the evidence-gathering process for those intending to file suit. It could also help ensure patients looking for a doctor do not inadvertently solicit services without having access to their complete history of misconduct if any should happen to exist.

The Proposal’s Expected Effects

As written, the Governor’s 36th proposal would have four primary effects on public health investigations and transparency. First, the Department of Health would be granted the ability to publicly clarify whether an investigation is ongoing as well as show disciplinary actions conducted through “expedited processes” that do not qualify as prosecutable misconduct.

Second, the proposal would eliminate lifetime licensing in New York and require practicing physicians in the state to periodically update their license or have it rendered inactive. In a similar vein, the proposal would loosen restrictions on when the State Health Commissioner can issue medical license suspensions, in order to allow suspensions during an active investigation under certain circumstances.

Finally, the proposal would require practicing physicians in New York to provide additional information in their online Physician Profile. Currently, this publicly-run service lists each doctor’s educational background, translation services, and history of legal action. The proposal would also mandate that information about accepted insurance options, location, hours of operation, and more be made publicly accessible.

What This Could Mean for Malpractice Cases

Currently, defendants in New York medical malpractice lawsuits are afforded significant rights after they are reported for negligence and placed under investigation. While these rights are crucial to maintaining a fair litigation system, in the past they have allowed careless and reckless doctors to continue practicing, even while under investigation for malpractice, even practicing on new and unaware patients.

If someone has already suffered harm from a negligent doctor, having greater access to their medical and investigative history could be helpful when building a civil case based on legal negligence. A medical malpractice lawyer could discuss with an individual plaintiff how this kind of information could impact their case. Learn more by calling today and scheduling a consultation.