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New York Court Discusses Continuous Treatment Doctrine in Failure to Diagnose Case

A prompt and accurate diagnosis is an essential element of competent medical care. Thus, a doctor that fails to diagnose a plaintiff in a timely manner may be liable for medical malpractice. If a patient does not promptly pursue claims against a doctor, though, the right to recover damages may be waived unless an exception, such as the continuous treatment doctrine, applies. Recently, a New York court issued a ruling in which it discussed whether the continuous treatment doctrine protected the plaintiff’s claims from being dismissed as untimely. If you sustained injuries due to a delayed or absent diagnosis, you might be entitled to damages and should speak to a diligent Rochester medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Injuries and Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff was admitted to the defendant medical center, where he was treated by the defendant attending physician. He was diagnosed with blood clots and deep venous thrombosis in his extremities and ultimately required above-the-knee amputations of both legs. After his amputations, the plaintiff continued to treat with the defendants for three years, undergoing physical therapy and other postoperative care.

Allegedly, the plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, alleging their failure to properly diagnose and treat his conditions resulted in the need for amputations. The defendants moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims, arguing they were barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiff opposed the defendants’ motion, stating that the continuous treatment doctrine applied and, therefore, his claims were timely.

The Continuous Treatment Doctrine

In New York, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years and six months of the date of the act or omission that caused the plaintiff’s harm, or of the last treatment where there is continuous treatment for the same condition that led to the negligent act. The court explained that under the continuous treatment doctrine, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the end of a course of treatment if three factors are present.

First, the plaintiff must continue to seek and must obtain an actual course of care from the defendant doctor during the relevant period. Then, the plaintiff must show that the course of treatment was for the same conditions that underlie the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims. Finally, the plaintiff must prove the treatment was continuous. The premise behind the continuous treatment doctrine is that the patient-doctor relationship requires trust, and a patient should not be required to question the doctor’s skill in the course of treatment, by being compelled to file a lawsuit.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendants adequately demonstrated that the plaintiff’s claims were filed after the applicable statute of limitations. The court noted, though, that the plaintiff raised a question of fact as to whether the ongoing care after his amputations constituted a continuous course of treatment. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Meet with a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

It is critical for anyone harmed by a doctor’s failure to diagnose a medical condition promptly and accurately to pursue claims in a timely manner. If you were hurt by a delayed diagnosis, the trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the full amount of compensation recoverable under the law. You can contact us at 585-653-7343 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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