Time periods, known as statute of limitations, restrict the time a medical negligence case may be filed in New York. However, certain events may extend this period and allow litigation to continue.
A lawsuit alleging that a doctor's failure to timely diagnose a patient's lung cancer could be allowed to continue even though it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. A New York appeals court ruled that the time period could be extended because other doctors at the same facility continued to treat the patient.
The patient was seen by physicians at a medical practice beginning in 1989. She visited this office throughout 2010 when she began coughing but was not diagnosed with cancer until March 2011 when an x-ray disclosed an abnormal result. When she went to another hospital, not named in the suit, she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.
After identifying the physician who saw the patient twice in March 2010, a lawsuit was filed against him in September 2013 by the patient's husband on her behalf. The physician's defense attorneys argued that the statute of limitations blocked this suit because it was filed over two and half years after these March 2010 visits.
However, the plaintiffs argued that other doctors treated the patient in March 2011, which was well within the statute of limitations for the March 2013 lawsuit filing. The appeals court agreed and ruled that this case fell within the continuous treatment doctrine. According to the court, a jury could decide whether the patient underwent a continuous course of treatment with the defendant's medical practice.
Many obstacles can stand in the way of commencing a medical malpractice action, as this case shows. An attorney can help victims and their families obtain proof and overcome procedural obstacles with these lawsuits.
Source: Law 360, "NY Doctor Must Face Lung Cancer Diagnosis Med Mal Suit," Abraham Moussako, May 11, 2017