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New York Court Discusses Continuous Treatment Doctrine in Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice claims in New York must be filed within the statute of limitations; otherwise, the plaintiff’s claim may be dismissed. In cases in which the plaintiff has an ongoing treatment relationship with the defendant, though, the statute of limitations may be tolled pursuant to the continuous treatment doctrine. The parameters of the doctrine were discussed in a recent hospital malpractice case in New York in which the defendant argued the plaintiff’s claims were barred as untimely. If you suffered harm due to a healthcare provider’s failure to provide you with adequate care in a hospital setting, it is in your best interest to speak with a practiced Rochester hospital malpractice attorney as soon as possible to avoid waiving your right to pursue damages.

The Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent presented to the defendant hospital in October 2007 for a bilateral screening mammogram. She was advised that the test did not reveal any abnormalities. She then returned to the defendant hospital in January 2008 with reports of a painful lump in her left breast. One month later, the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a biopsy of the mass at the defendant hospital, and it was revealed that she had breast cancer. She continued to undergo treatment at the defendant hospital until her death due to cancer in November 2008.

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death case against the defendant, alleging the failure to properly read the decedent’s initial mammogram caused a delay in her cancer diagnosis. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff failed to serve the defendant, which was a municipal corporation, with timely notice pursuant to New York law. The court agreed, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims, after which the plaintiff appealed.

The Continuous Treatment Doctrine in Medical Malpractice Cases in New York

Under New York law, a plaintiff that wishes to pursue claims against a municipal corporation must file and serve a notice of claim against the corporation within ninety days of when the claim arose. In the context of medical malpractice cases, a claim accrues on the date when the allegedly negligent act occurred. Thus, a notice of claim must be served within ninety days of the harmful event in a medical malpractice case.

In some instances, though, the ninety-day period will be tolled by the continuous treatment doctrine. Specifically, the doctrine will apply when the injured party’s course of treatment, which includes the wrongful act, has run continuously and is related to the party’s original complaint or illness. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that an issue of fact existed as to whether the continuous treatment doctrine applied. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the lower court ruling.

Meet with a Seasoned Rochester Attorney

Hospitals are expected to employ competent medical professionals, and when they fail to do so, it can have devastating consequences. If you sustained injuries or illness due to inadequate care in a hospital, you may be able to recover damages and should meet with an attorney. The seasoned  Rochester hospital malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers possess the skills and resources needed to demonstrate liability and we will work tirelessly to help you seek just results. You can contact us through our form online or by calling 833-200-2000 to schedule a meeting.

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