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New York Ophthalmologist Loses License over Unnecessary Laser Eye Surgeries

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Dr. Martin Ehrenberg-a board-certified ophthalmologist-Thursday, had his medical license suspended Thursday by the New York Department of Health Office of Professional Medical Conduct for performing unnecessary laser eye surgeries on at least six of his patients.  All this on the same day the state was again called to task for how it disciplines doctors.  At a Farmingdale hearing on the state’s handling of the Dr. Harvey Finkelstein case yesterday, state Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines pointed to Dr. Ehrenberg’s suspension for medical malpractice as a sign of the agency’s stepped-up pursuit of cases against bad doctors.  Dr. Martin Ehrenberg maintains offices in Manhattan and Great Neck, Long Island and faces 32 charges of medical misconduct, including gross negligence, for treatments he administered from 1998 through late 2006.

Harvey Finkelstein is the Dix Hills doctor who exposed patients to blood-borne pathogenic infections because of his routine practice of reusing syringes.  Finkelstein remains under review for inferior infection control practices and record keeping.  So far, six of Finkelstein’s patients tested positive for hepatitis B and six others for hepatitis C, according to the Nassau County Health Department.

Yesterday, State Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) convened a hearing on the Finkelstein case.  State Health Commissioner Richard Daines was among the designated speakers at the event that was open to the public.  Hannon, head of the Senate’s health committee, decided to hold the hearing given the Finkelstein controversy that began unfolding last month.  The health department came under fire because it took almost three years to notify hundreds of patients of the transmission.  It was at this meeting that Daines brought up the case of Dr. Martin Eherenberg’s suspension.

In a statement of charges, Daines said an investigation revealed that Ehrenberg misled the patients by performing laser eye surgery that was not medically justified and then fraudulently billed the patients as having had received treatment for medically necessary services.  The document of charges also states that Ehrenberg did not properly examine patients’ eyes and, in at least one case, failed to keep required treatment records.  The doctor made a diagnosis and offered treatment that was inappropriate or unnecessary, according to spokesman Jeffrey Hammond of the state Department of Health.  The six patients were diagnosed with ailments including diabetic retinopathy, a disease of the retina brought on by diabetes; wet macular degeneration, in which fluid leaks into the back of the eye; and cataracts.

Citing an imminent danger to public health posed by Ehrenberg’s continued fraudulent practices, Daines suspended Ehrenberg’s license pending a hearing before a state Office of Professional Medical Conduct committee is scheduled in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Ehrenberg was licensed by the state in May 1984 and is a member of the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, and, according to its Web site, is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Finkelstein, an anesthesiologist since 1981, continues to practice at the Pain Care Center of Long Island and has admitting privileges at the New Island Hospital in Bethpage, the North Shore University Hospital in Plainview, and the Long Island SurgiCenter in Melville.

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