The future of NY medical malpractice: Will standards & statutes change?

Medical malpractice is an evolving legal field. Two issues that may lead to change in the practice are the standards that physicians are held to in an effort to address the growing debate over reform and the need for change in how the statute of limitations is applied to medical malpractice cases in New York.

Will the standards physicians are held to change?

A recent article in Bloomberg explored changes that may be on the horizon for medical malpractice suits. Essentially, the article addressed whether there would be a shift away from a focus on capping the amount of monetary awards a victim can receive. Instead, the authors pushed for changes that would focus on how medical professionals are held accountable for their actions.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) currently provides physicians with a basic understanding of the standard of care they are judged by. Essentially, the NIH advises physicians to practice medicine in a manner that is in line with the practices used by competent physicians in the same field of medicine with access to the same resources. Although this definition provides a good baseline, it is also important to note that it is not inclusive. Previous cases have held physicians accountable for not pursuing a reasonable course of action for a patient, even if it does not fall within a common practice.

The new process would shift to a more broad analysis. Instead of holding physicians and other medical professionals' accountable for their actions based on standard practices in their area, financial and healthcare policy experts are pushing for a more national standard. The current standard focuses on local practices. Instead, experts argue a national standard reflecting the latest medical knowledge would lead to better patient care and reduce the risk of unnecessary suits.

Experts pushing for the change note that the shift may seem minor. However, these experts also point out that even if this change is not accepted, the evidence continues to support that putting caps on damages for medical malpractice will not solve the problems in the medical liability system.

Will the statute of limitations for New York medical malpractice suits change?

Legislators continue to consider medical malpractice reform at a national level. Although this may not happen in the near future, changes at the state level are more likely. One such change that is currently debated by state legislatures is the passage of Lavern's Law, a law designed to change the statute of limitations. If passed, the law would allow the statute of limitations to begin at the time a person could have reasonably been aware of malpractice instead of at the time the malpractice occurred.

The Daily News, a New York news source, recently reported that although the law continues to face roadblocks momentum towards support is building.

These are just a few examples of how medical malpractice law is changing. As a result, those who are the victims of medical malpractice should contact an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney to help better ensure their legal rights are protected.