Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions are frequently asked of the Office of Professional Medical Conduct. The questions and their answers are listed below to help the public better understand the office's role and the state's physician discipline program.
- What does the Office of Professional Medical Conduct do?
- What is misconduct?
- Whom do I contact about filing a misconduct complaint?
- What happens once I make a complaint?
- Will I be interviewed or have to testify about my complaint?
- Have there been complaints about my physician in the past?
- How can I find out if my physician is licensed in New York State?
- How can I learn about my physician's education?
- How can I find out if my physician is board-certified?
- Can your office recommend a physician for me?
- Can a physician refuse to accept me as a patient?
- Does a physician have the right to terminate me as a patient?
- How much can a physician charge for services?
- How can I get a copy of my medical records and is there a fee?
- How long must a physician keep medical records?
- Additional Information
What does the Office of Professional Medical Conduct do?
The mission of the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) is to protect the public by investigating professional discipline issues involving physicians, physician assistants, and specialist assistants. OPMC is responsible for investigating all complaints of misconduct, coordinating disciplinary hearings that may result from an investigation, monitoring physicians whose licenses have been restored after temporary license surrender, and monitoring physicians, physician assistants, and specialist assistants placed on probation as a result of disciplinary action.
If you feel that your doctor has committed misconduct, you should file a report with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct . Reports of misconduct are kept confidential.
What is misconduct?
Examples of medical misconduct include (but are not limited to): practicing fraudulently, practicing with gross incompetence or gross negligence; practicing while impaired by alcohol, drugs, physical or mental disability; being convicted of a crime; filing a false report; guaranteeing that treatment will result in a cure; refusing to provide services because of race, creed, color or national origin; performing services not authorized by the patient; harassing, abusing or intimidating a patient; ordering excessive tests; and abandoning or neglecting a patient in need of immediate care.
Certain types of complaints are not considered misconduct and therefore are not under the jurisdiction of OPMC. These include complaints regarding fees (unless they represent fraud), and complaints about a physician's attitude. The specific definitions can be found in State Education Law, Sections 6530 and 6531.
Whom do I contact about filing a misconduct complaint?
To discuss filing a misconduct complaint against a physician, physician assistant, or specialist assistant, contact the Office of Professional Medical Conduct, NYS Department of Health, Riverview Center 150 Broadway, Suite 355 Albany, New York 12204-2719. Phone: 518-402-0836 or 1-800-663-6114. All complaints are kept confidential.
Complaints against other licensed professionals should be directed to the Office of Professional Discipline, NYS Education Department, 475 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016-6901.
What happens once I make a complaint?
Once a written complaint has been received, it is reviewed by investigative and medical staff at the Office of Professional Medical Conduct. All complaints are kept confidential. A charge of misconduct is serious and there must be sufficient evidence of a possible violation before a hearing is held. If an investigation uncovers sufficient evidence, the case is presented to an investigation committee. The committee can recommend to the Director any of the following: a hearing, additional investigation, a dismissal of the matter, or non-disciplinary warnings or consultations.
If sufficient evidence suggesting misconduct is not found, the investigation is terminated and the case is closed. A record of the investigation remains in OPMC files for possible future reference. Complainants and physicians are notified by letter. If the investigation committee finds evidence suggesting misconduct, charges are filed against the physician.
At that point, a disciplinary hearing is held before a committee of the Board for Professional Medical Conduct (board). The board is composed of physicians, physician assistants and lay members who fulfill major roles in the disciplinary process by serving on investigation, hearing and license restoration committees. The hearing committee, which is composed of two physicians and one layperson, makes a finding of guilt or innocence and imposes a penalty if appropriate. Either the licensee or the Director of the OPMC may appeal the decision to an Administrative Review Board.
The Board for Professional Medical Conduct has the authority to revoke or suspend a physician's license. The board can also limit a physician's license, issue a censure and reprimand, order education and/or retraining, levy a fine, or require community service. The board cannot direct a physician to reimburse a patient, change a diagnosis or alter an opinion.
Effective November 3, 2008, charges filed against a physician, as well as the board's Determination and Order regarding all charges, will be made public. Use the Physician Search to look for information about disciplinary actions imposed on an individual physician.
Will I be interviewed or have to testify about my complaint?
The person who makes a complaint (the complainant) usually is interviewed. The interview is most often conducted on the telephone, but in some situations may be in person. If a disciplinary hearing is held, the complainant may be requested to testify.
Have there been complaints about my physician in the past?
Complaints against physicians are public information only if they result in a statement of charges or a final disciplinary action. To learn if a physician has been disciplined, click on the arrow at the top left of your screen to return to the physician search screen. The website provides a listing of all physicians, physician assistants and specialist assistants who have been disciplined since 1990. You may search by physician name or license number by using the Physician Search feature.
You may also call OPMC at 1-800-663-6114. There is no fee for this information.
How can I find out if my physician is licensed in New York State?
Contact the State Education Department, SED Building, 2nd floor, Albany, NY 12234. Phone: 518-474-3817 and ask for public information. Web site: www.op.nysed.gov. The State Education Department can also tell you where a physician attended medical school.
How can I learn about my physician's education?
The New York Patient Health Information and Quality Improvement Act of 2000 made it possible for all citizens of New York to get information about physicians (doctors) through the State Physician Profile website www.nydoctorprofile.com.
Certain information is required to be available on all physicians. Such information includes:
- Information about the doctor's medical education
- Information about translation services at the doctor's office
- Information about legal actions taken against the doctor
To see all the information that is available for each doctor, search on any doctor's name.
Doctors can also give extra information (optional information) about their practices. Each doctor is invited to add:
- The practice name, address and phone number of all offices
- The names of other doctors in a practice group
- A list of the articles or research papers the doctor has published
- A list of professional and community service activities or awards
- A list of the health plans the doctor works with
- A personal statement about any information in the doctor's profile
How can I find out if my physician is board-certified?
Many doctors become certified in a specialty by completing special training and passing formal examinations. To find out if your MD is board-certified, access the American Board of Medical Specialties Web site at www.abms.org or call 1-866-275-2267. Patients who would like to check the certification status of a DO can visit the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Web site at www.osteopathic.org or call the Member Service Center at 1-800-621-1773, option 1 on the menu.
Can your office recommend a physician for me?
The Office of Professional Medical Conduct cannot give any recommendation for, or against, a physician, physician assistant, or specialist assistant; the office can only inform you whether a disciplinary action has been taken against that person.
For information on how to locate a physician in your area, you may want to contact your county or state's Medical Society. The Web site for the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) includes a listing of county and specialty societies.
Can a physician refuse to accept me as a patient?
Physicians are generally free to accept or reject patients, however, a doctor may not discriminate against patients on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin.
Does a physician have the right to terminate me as a patient?
Yes, a physician can stop seeing a patient. Although no regulations require a physician to provide advance notice, typically he/she would give the patient two to four weeks to locate a new physician.
How much can a physician charge for services?
Generally, physician fees are not regulated in New York State. Complaints regarding fees are not under the jurisdiction of the Office of Professional Medical Conduct unless they represent fraud (for example, a charge for tests or services not provided).
How can I get a copy of my medical records and is there a fee?
You can request a copy of your medical records from your physician. The cost can be no more than 75 cents per copied paper page.
A physician cannot refuse to let a patient see medical records because of an unpaid bill. For more information, contact the Access to Patient Information Program at 1-800-663-6114.
How long must a physician keep medical records?
Physicians must keep patient records for six years after the last visit. Records for children are kept for one year after the child's 18th birthday.
- Information on closed complaints, dismissed actions and on-going investigations is not available to the public.
- Because medical conduct investigations are complex, it often takes months to resolve complaints. Cases that go to hearing typically take longer.
- Actions taken by the Board for Professional Medical Conduct against physicians are different from malpractice actions. Malpractice cases are heard in civil court and seek financial awards for patients or families who claim harm by a physician. Contact your County Clerk's office for information related to malpractice.