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New York lawmakers consider medical malpractice changes

When a 41-year-old mother went to the doctor feeling ill, she had a treatable form of cancer in her lung. However, the doctor who examined her did not tell her about the mass on her lung, and the disease spread untreated. By the time doctors diagnosed the cancer in her body, it was too late to save her life. Additionally, the time limit for filing a medical malpractice claim in New York had also passed.

Currently, patients must begin a malpractice suit against a doctor within a certain time period following the medical error. However, since the error in diagnosis was not discovered until that time period had elapsed, the woman had no recourse to seek compensation. When she died of the cancer, she left behind her 15-year-old autistic daughter, who is profoundly disabled. Relatives and friends of the deceased woman are fighting to get New York lawmakers to change the time limit for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Only six other states have such a time limit. Under Laverne's Law, as the bill is known, the statute of limitations would begin when the patient discovers the medical error, not when the error occurs. Apparently, there are plenty of senators who sponsor the bill, but it is not clear when the vote will take place, if at all. Meanwhile, the medical community opposes changes in the law.

Medical malpractice can compound an already painful and frightening situation, creating financial burdens for victims and their families. When a patient suffers because of the negligence or incompetence of a medical professional, that patient has the right to seek legal counsel to determine his or her alternatives. An attorney with experience representing victims of medical blunders will examine the case and discuss every option to decide the best course of action.

Source: New York Daily News, "'Lavern's Law' malpractice bill faces N.Y. Senate hurdles", Kenneth Lovett, June 13, 2017

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