CQCAPD also offers legal advocacy through the Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program to qualified individuals. For more information about PAIMI services contact the CQCAPD Advocacy Services Bureau at 1-800-624-4143 or visit their Website at http://cqc.ny.gov/advocacy/protection-advocacy-programs/paimi.
The Office of Mental Health publishes two booklets which may be of use, " Rights of Inpatients in New York State Office of Mental Health Psychiatric Centers" and " Rights of Outpatients in all outpatient programs licensed or run by the Office of Mental Health". Copies of these booklets may be downlaoded from the OMH website or ordered through OMH's Customer Relations line, 1-800-597-8481.
Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities puts out laminated business card-sized cards of the Rights of Outpatients and The Rights of Inpatients in English, Spanish, and Creole. You can order copies of these from CQCAPD by calling 1-800-624-4143.
Complaints About Care by Practitioners:
If at all possible, the best first step when a problem arises with a mental health professional is to discuss it with him or her, and give him or her a chance to correct the situation. If the professional fails to address the problem, or if you are unable to discuss the situation with the professional for any reason, you may turn to one of the New York State agencies that handles complaints lodged against certain categories of mental health professionals. In the event of an on-going problem you may want to keep a log of incidents. If the complaint is investigated, the investigators will find your documentation very helpful.
New York State law requires professions whose scope of practice includes psychotherapy services and psychoanalysis to be licensed. These professions are in Medicine, Nursing, Psychology, Social Work, and Mental Health Practitioners in the following areas: Mental Health Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Creative Arts Therapists, and Psychoanalysts. See the website of the Office of the Professions for the complete list of professions at http://www.op.nysed.gov/proflist.htm.
Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Registered Professional Nurses, and psychologists are licensed by the New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions (OP) which also investigates and prosecutes complaints of individuals in these professions. People who are taking prescription medications should note also that pharmacists must be licensed by OP, and OP handles complaints of misconduct by pharmacists.
Complaints against psychiatrists, as well as all other licensed physicians, physician assistants, and specialist assistants, are investigated and prosecuted by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) in the New York State Department of Health.
To file a complaint against a psychologist, social worker, pharmacist, registered professional nurse (or any other of the 44 professions licensed by OP) you will need to fill out a complaint form. You can call the Office of the Profession's complaint hotline at 1-800-442-8106, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request a form or to get more information. You can also print out a complaint form from the Office of the Profession's Website, http://www.op.nysed.gov/opd/complain.htm. Send the completed complaint form directly to the OP regional office nearest you, or fax it to the main professional discipline office at (212) 951-6446. Complaints must be submitted in writing.
The Office of the Professions does not have authority to investigate fees you believe are too high or to intervene in fee disputes. OP can, however, investigate complaints involving fraudulent billing.
Examples of the types of complaints the Office of the Professions investigates include:
The Office of the Profession's Website, http://www.op.nysed.gov/ has a great deal of information on the range of OP's activities. Two OP brochures that may be of use are "What You Should Know About Psychologists and Their Services" and What You Should Know About Certified Social Workers and Their Services".
The Office of Professional Medical Conduct of the New York State Department of Health investigates and prosecutes complaints of misconduct by psychiatrists. Complaints must also be made in writing. To request a complaint form, or to get more information, you can call 1-800-663-6114 or visit the OPMC Website at http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/opmc/main.htm. Your complaint will be kept confidential. To protect your confidentiality, the OPMC does not accept complaints either by fax or e-mail.
The OPMC puts out an informative brochure entitled "How to Choose the Right Physician - How to Tell Us If You Don't". This brochure describes how to research a physician's record before you visit him or her, and it details the process of registering a complaint with the OPMC, what types of complaints they will investigate and what they will not.
To find out if a psychiatrist or psychologist or social worker is licensed to practice in New York State call the Office of the Professions, Division of Professional Licensing Services at (518) 474-3817, or verify professional licenses online at http://www.op.nysed.gov/opsearches.htm. The Division can also provide information on current status of license, schools attended, graduation date, and specialty credentials.
If you have an unresolvable complaint against a mental health professional not licensed or certified by the Office of the Professions, you have the option of taking that person to court in a civil lawsuit. If a mental health professional has committed a crime against you, report it the police.
Mental Health Care and Treatment in Jails and Prisons:
Several agencies accept complaints from inmates who want to lodge a complaint about mental health care and treatment, or lack or treatment, provided in jail or prison.
The Office of Mental Health responds to complaints about mental health treatment and care at New York State prison facilities through the Risk Management office of the Central New York Psychiatric Center. Complaints can be directed to:
Director of Risk Management
Legal Services of New York
Legal Aid Society, Prisoners' Rights Project
Inmates in state prison or county jails (not including facilities in New York City) may write a letter to:
Commission of Correction
in a New York City jail may write or call:
Inmates in county jails can also contact the Director of the Department of Mental Health for the county. The Office of Mental Health has an online directory of all County Mental Health Agencies at http://www.clmhd.org/about/countydirectory.aspx.
To report an individual for practicing without a license call the Office of the Profession's toll-free hotline 1-800-442-8106.
If you have been committed involuntarily to a New York State-run psychiatric facility it is the policy of the State to bill the patient (or his or her insurance, Medicaid, legal guardian, estate, spouse, etc.), unless the involuntary commitment was made under certain procedures of criminal procedure law. If you want to contest a bill for an involuntary commitment you will need to discuss the matter with the facility.
If you suspect a child you know is being abused at a residence/hospital, call the New York State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Reporting Center hotline at 1-800-342-3720.
The New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) looks for fraud, waste and abuse in New York State’s Medicaid program. If you suspect that fraud, waste or abuse is taking place against New York’s Medicaid program, call the fraud hotline toll free at 1-877-87 FRAUD (1-877-873-7283) to make an anonymous report.
Complaints about health insurance companies can be directed to the New York State Attorney General's Health Care Bureau:
Attorney General’s Office
See other Information Center Fact Sheets.
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