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New York Court Holds that Failure-to-Diagnose Breast Cancer Medical Malpractice Claim Was Timely Filed

Like other types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, claims for medical malpractice must be filed within a certain period of time (called the “statute of limitations”), or else the claimant forfeits his or her right to pursue fair compensation. While there a few exceptions to this general rule, these exceptions apply only to very limited situations. In all other circumstances, a would-be plaintiff’s claim will be dismissed as time-barred if not filed within the limitations period. Hence, it is very important to talk to Syracuse medical malpractice attorney sooner, rather than later, if you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a malpractice lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of Orange County was a woman who had a mammogram at the defendant medical facility in April 2015. The defendant radiologist reviewed the plaintiff’s mammogram and prepared a report recommending that the plaintiff have a biopsy, but, apparently due to some miscommunication or a lack of communication, the plaintiff did not actually undergo a biopsy until November 2015. The biopsy indicated the presence of cancer.

The plaintiff’s suit sought monetary compensation for lack of informed consent and medical malpractice; more particularly, the plaintiff asserted that the defendants had been negligent in failing to diagnose her with breast cancer and in failing to give her timely notification of the results of the radiologist’s report recommending a biopsy. The defendants’ filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff filed an appeal, seeking review from the appellate tribunal.

Resolution of the Issues

The New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department reversed the lower court’s order, holding that it had been erroneous for that court to grant summary judgment to the defendants. The lower court had granted summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff’s claim was untimely, but the reviewing court found that this was a mistake. The court began by pointing out that the state legislature enacted a “discovery rule” for failure-to-diagnose-cancer cases such as the plaintiff’s, effective January 31, 2018. The new law was applicable to both acts and omissions occurring on or after the statute’s effective date as well as acts and omissions that occurred after July 31, 2015. The appellate tribunal agreed with the lower court that the new rule did not apply to the plaintiff’s case, however, because the allege omission occurred prior to July 31, 2015.

The court went on to find that a separate provision of the 2018 statutory enactment did apply, namely the revival-of-claims provision for actions that would have otherwise became time-barred within 10 months of the date that the statute became effective, i.e. March 31, 2017. Insomuch as the plaintiff’s claim became time-barred in October 2017 and her claim was filed in February 2018 , several months before the July 31, 2018 deadline, her lawsuit was not time-barred.

How to Contact a Syracuse Malpractice Lawyer

When a doctor or other healthcare worker fails to properly diagnose a patient’s illness or injury, valuable time can be lost. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a failure-to-diagnose, delayed diagnosis, or misdiagnosis, you need to understand your legal rights. As the case discussed above indicates, time is of the essence when it comes to asserting claims against medical providers for negligence. To speak to an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorney, call the law offices of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP today at 315-479-9000 or contact us online.

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