An often-ignored legal requirement that New York State-licensed physicians complete and regularly update an online Physician Profile is now being enforced in a new initiative by the State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC). Although at present a failure to comply with the law is most likely to come to light only in the context of an OPMC investigation of the physician for other reasons, two OPMC representatives confirmed on April 20 that the initiative was being taken seriously and would be expanded.
Whenever a physician renews his or her license online, he or she is required to check a box to certify that his or her Physician Profile has been updated. However, much like the common requirement that visitors to a website review and accept the site’s terms and conditions before proceeding, many physicians appear to be routinely checking the certification box without actually updating their profiles. Paragraph 4 of Section 2995-A of the New York Public Health Law reads:
Each physician shall periodically report to the department on forms and in the time and manner required by the commissioner any other information as is required by the department for the development of profiles under this section which is not otherwise reasonably obtainable. In addition to such periodic reports and providing the same information, each physician shall update his or her profile information within the six months prior to the expiration date of such physician’s registration period, as a condition of registration renewal under article one hundred thirty-one of the education law.
The Physician Profile website, which allows the public to search for physicians by name and access information on their education, practice areas, and legal actions against them, among other things, shows the date on which each item of information was last updated. To avoid possible unwanted attention from the OPMC, all physicians are urged to visit the site immediately and confirm that all of their information is current and complete.