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Bill to Change New York’s Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Killed by Senate Majority Leader

September 17, 2015  ·  By HM&M

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Despite receiving overwhelming bipartisan support from the Assembly, sponsoring from the majority of the State Senate, and endorsement from New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomono, a bill that would have changed New York’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice will never come up for a final vote. Instead, the bill, named Lavern’s Law, was shot down by the Senate majority leader, John J. Flannagan. As a result, victims of medical malpractice in New York will continue to suffer.

Lavern’s Law and the Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Suits

Lavern’s Law was named after Lavern Wilson, a Brooklyn woman who died from a curable form of lung cancer. Doctors at Kings County Hospital had found a suspicious mass during an X-ray three years prior to her death, but never told her about it. And, because New York’s statute of limitations only gives victims two-and-a-half years from the date a mistake occurs to file a lawsuit, no action was ever taken against the negligent physicians.

New York is not the only state to have issues with their statute of limitations on medical malpractice suits. In fact, the statutes are murky and open to interpretation in most states, with some starting their countdown from the date the mistake occurred, others starting it from the date it was discovered, and still others starting it when the patient stopped seeing the physician. This creates a situation in which victims–not the courts, and certainly not the healthcare industry–are paying for the mistakes of negligent doctors and hospitals.

Hidden Dangers within the Field of Medicine

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences published a study, “To Err is Human.” In it, they determined that at least 44,000 patients per year were killed in a hospital because of medical negligence. Twelve years later, a study published in the journal HealthAffairs estimated that deaths caused by negligence had increased by 10-fold. Disturbing as this is, the figures do not even come close to accounting for the hundreds of thousands of other patients severely injured each year by hospitals and physicians.

Where is the Accountability?

Despite all of the deaths and injuries caused by doctors, only about one percent of all cases result in the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Not all of those cases are won by patients, and even when they are, most states have a ceiling on the amount of money a victim can receive. Reporting a physician to the medical board rarely produces results either. In fact, less than four percent of the 7,400 cases reported to the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct between 2011 and 2013 resulted in the suspension, restriction, or loss of the negligent physician’s license.

Victims of Medical Negligence Deserve Fair Compensation

Patients will never truly be able to trust the healthcare industry until laws change and physicians and hospitals start placing the safety of patients above their salaries. Until that time, victims must fight for their rights. When injuries and death happens, deal with it swiftly, and do so with the help of a qualified medical malpractice attorney.

We understand just how much is at stake for victims of medical malpractice. With nearly 75 years of experience and an in-depth understanding of the complexities often faced during medical malpractice lawsuits, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys have the skills and experience necessary to effectively handle your case. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a negligent physician or hospital, contact us for a free consultation.


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