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Doctor Settles Hepatitis Case

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Dix Hills, NY: A malpractice lawsuit that accused Dr. Harvey Finkelstein of reusing syringes has been settled by the doctor. The state Department of Health said that Finkelstein put thousands of patients at risk for hepatitis C. The man who filed the lawsuit, 66-year-old Peter Mattmuller, was found to have become infected in Finkelstein's office.

An investigation by the Department of Health found that Finkelstein had used the same syringe several times on the patient that was treated before Mattmuller had seen the doctor. Using the syringe multiple times resulted in Finkelstein contaminating multidose vials of medication and Mattmuller had received an injection from one of those vials.

Doctor with SyringeMattmuller was receiving treatment by Finkelstein in July 2004 for a degenerative disc disease and later in 2004 was notified that he had hepatitis C. It was the same month Mattmuller found out about the disease that the Nassau Department of Health began investigating. They found that two more Finkelstein patients had contracted hepatitis C. One of those patients was Raymond Bookstaver, 49. Bookstaver received injections of the same medication directly after Mattmuller.

In January 2005, state and county investigators observed Finkelstein while working in his office. These officials state that they witnessed the doctor reusing syringes in multidose vials and then using those medications on three patients.

Because of Finkelstein's failure to control infection within his office, over 10,000 patients had to be notified in November 2007 that they were possibly exposed to the contaminated vials. The state Health Department had performed tests that linked the strains of the disease to both Mattmuller and Bookstaver.

The amount of the April 10, 2008 settlement has not been disclosed, but Finkelstein is not admitting any wrongdoing. This makes his 11th malpractice lawsuit in the past 8 years. The state has roughly 80,000 physicians and less than 200 of them have dealt with as many malpractice lawsuits as Finkelstein, according to the group Public Citizen.

Bookstaver is also suing Finkelstein with the claim that he contracted hepatitis C under the care of the doctor. Records are showing that an individual with chronic hepatitis C had received an injection from Finkelstein right before the July 15, 2004 appointments of Mattmuller and Bookstaver.

Another patient, Susan Lewis, is also filing a lawsuit with claims she contracted hepatitis C in Finkelstein's office. However, she is also suing the county and state health departments because she alleges that it took them almost three years to notify her that the doctor had reused syringes in his office.

By: Ginger Gillenwater

Medical Malpractice

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