Victims of medical malpractice not protected in New York


New York hospitals have ranked 32nd on patient safety, with many of the state’s hospitals falling below the national average for the safety of its patients. According to the report, a number of out-of-date laws make the problems worse as individuals who are injured or die due to medical errors prohibit many of the patients or their families from ever stepping into court.

The report cites the example of one New York mother, who entered a hospital in 2010 with chest pains. A subsequent x-ray indicated that the woman had a nodule on her lung, but no staff member ever indicated that anything was wrong. She was sent home and advised to take Motrin. Two years later, the woman discovered she had cancer. However, she could not take the hospital to court due to New York’s statute of limitations, which begins when the medical error is made and not when the patient learns about the mistake, even if the mistake is admitted.

Unfortunately, the woman died in March. She is survived by her daughter, who is mentally disabled. It is estimated that a court award from a malpractice lawsuit would have ensured that her daughter had the care that she would need for the rest of her life.

Errors by hospital staff are common, with one in four patients suffering from medical mistakes. Due to New York’s statute of limitations, there is a narrow window in which patients who believe that hospital negligence has caused them unnecessary harm can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. An experienced New York attorney may be able to help their clients seek compensation for their injuries to help pay for expensive medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings and pain and suffering.

Source: AMNewYork, “Cohen: For sake of patients, change NY’s malpractice law“, Bob Cohen, June 18, 2013

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