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Changes to malpractice statutes of limitations proposed

A proposed bill before the New York legislature would significantly alter medical malpractice laws in the state by allowing patients to pursue claims long after an incident of alleged malpractice occurred.

Under present laws, patients only have 2.5 years in which to file lawsuits over alleged malpractice. The proposed legislation will amend the statute of limitations so that the clock doesn't start ticking until patients first realize that they might have suffered harm or been misdiagnosed. They would have as long as a decade from the incident to file a lawsuit.

Opponents to the bill include the Medical Society of the State of New York, whose members claim that the changes would increase the costs of medical malpractice insurance and cause the prices of health care to skyrocket as well.

Supporters claim that medically complicated conditions like cancer can go undiagnosed for a number of years before patients become aware of the misdiagnosis.

One woman received treatment for benign uterine fibroids at a New York City hospital in 2012. Yet two years later, she discovered that she actually had advanced uterine cancer. The malignancy had metastasized to her spine and liver by the time she was correctly diagnosed. The woman is championing the efforts to pass the new legislation.

She stated, "The window was closed before I even knew. I may not live to see this law passed, but if I don't, and I helped pass it, then I'm glad I did it."

The position of the Medical Society is that this bill goes too far in allowing cases to be filed up to 10 years after an incident.

Whether or not this bill becomes law, New York residents who suspect malpractice should retain counsel as early as possible to help them build a strong case.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "New York bill extends deadline for medical malpractice suits," David Klepper, The Associated Press, June 02, 2016

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