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New York Court Explains Continuous Treatment Doctrine in Medical Malpractice Cases

New York medical malpractice lawsuits, like all civil claims, are governed by statutes of limitations. As such, if a plaintiff does not pursue his or her claim within the time limitations set forth under the law, he or she waives the right to recover. In some cases, however, the statute of limitations may be tolled by the continuous treatment doctrine, which allows the injured party additional time to pursue his or her claim.

The Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, recently explained the continuous treatment doctrine, in a case in which it ruled that the plaintiff’s claim was not barred by the statute of limitations due to the application of the doctrine.  If you were injured by substandard medical care, you should contact an experienced  Rochester medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for seeking damages.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the plaintiff underwent hip replacement surgery at the defendant hospital on July 9, 2008. She filed a Complaint alleging medical malpractice against the defendant hospital and defendant surgeon on December 16, 2013. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the Complaint was filed more than two years and six months after the plaintiff ceased treatment with the defendants and that therefore, the action was barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that she continued treating until November 26, 2011, which was less than two and a half years before she filed her lawsuit. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Continuous Treatment Doctrine

On appeal, the court noted that the trial court misinterpreted the plaintiff’s Complaint, which alleged the defendant hospital was negligent for the defendant surgeon’s malpractice as well as malpractice arising from treatment at the hospital’s free clinic through November 30, 2011, which was within the applicable limitations period. The court further held that the trial court erred in ruling that the tolling period expired on January 14, 2009, as it ignored the continuous treatment doctrine. The continuous treatment doctrine provides that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until after the plaintiff’s treatment with the defendant provider ends. A plaintiff’s treatment for purposes of the doctrine includes care begins at the initial visit and runs continuously until the last visit when the treatment is related to the same injury or illness. In assessing whether the continuous treatment doctrine applies, a court is to accept the plaintiff’s version of facts as true.

In the subject case, although the defendants alleged that more than two years and six months had passed from the date of the alleged malpractice and the commencement of the lawsuit, the plaintiff had raised an issue of fact as to when her treatment with the defendants ended. Specifically, both the plaintiff and the defendant surgeon testified regarding the plaintiff’s continued treatment with the defendants through 2011. Further, the court stated that the fact that the plaintiff consulted an attorney regarding the care she was provided by the defendant, and seemed dissatisfied with the treatment she received, was insufficient to establish that her treatment with the defendants had ended. As such, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Set Up a Conference with a Skilled  Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you were harmed due to medical malpractice you should confer with a skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorney to develop a plan for pursuing claims against your health care providers. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers will aggressively pursue the full extent of damages you may be owed. We can be contacted at 833-200-2000 or through the online form to set up a confidential and free conference.

More Blog Posts:

Court Finds Expert Report Sufficient to Show Medical Malpractice in New York Case, Rochester Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Blog, January 21, 2019

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