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Medical malpractice bill doesn't make it out of committee

The Senate and Assembly have let a bill die that would have gone far to protect the victims of medical malpractice in New York; the bill did not even leave committees to get voted on. The bill, which is named after a Brooklyn woman who was unable to sue for medical malpractice because of the New York statute of limitations on medical negligence, would have amended the statute of limitations. New York's statute of limitations runs from the moment the malpractice occurs, not from the moment it was discoverable, as it does in 44 states.

The Brooklyn woman had gone to her doctor at Kings County Hospital and had an X-ray taken of her chest. While her doctor found a nodule on her lung, no one ever told her of it or investigated further. That nodule eventually turned into cancer and her physician's delay in the diagnosis of cancer cost her her life.

By the time another doctor discovered that she had cancer, it was past the statute of limitations and she could not file a medical malpractice lawsuit. What is worse is that the cancer, if it had been caught and treated earlier, would have been curable. Sadly, the delay not only killed her, but it also prevented her from providing for her 15-year-old autistic daughter.

It was in this woman's memory that the medical malpractice bill was named, but legislators were bombarded with messages from medical and hospital lobbies that claimed a change to the statute of limitations would open the floodgates to malpractice legislation. Even if that were true, should a patient be doubly punished because of a doctor's malpractice?

Source: New York Daily News, "Proposed amendment to state's medical malpractice rules dies in Albany," Heidi Evans, June 25, 2013

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