Latest News 2017 December New Malpractice Law Passes New York Legislature

New Malpractice Law Passes New York Legislature

In June of this year, both chambers of the New York Legislature passed a bill called "Lavern's Law," which would allow certain victims of malpractice to take action against their doctors 30 months after the date they discover a mistaken diagnosis. Currently, medical malpractice victims have only 15 months from the date of the medical mistake to take action.

Back in 2010, Lavern Wilkinson, for whom the bill is named, had a lung tumor that was misdiagnosed as asthma. She died two years later, a victim of medical negligence. By the time the mistake was discovered in 2012, Ms. Wilkinson was already dying—and it was too late for her to hold anyone accountable for it.

New York Was Behind the Rest of the Nation

Lavern's Law is designed to allow victims of cancer misdiagnosis more time to sue the offending hospital, not only by extending the time window, but by resetting the countdown from the day of discovery. Most of the country already allows medical malpractice victims to take action based on the day they would have been able to determine that misdiagnosis took place.

Only five states still begin the malpractice litigation countdown from the date of the mistake:

  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • South Dakota

The importance of Lavern's Law is that it better protects the well-being and personal rights of individuals with cancer. Most people are not qualified and cannot be expected to know if their diagnosis is mistaken or not—this is why people rely on doctors in the first place. If a doctor tells someone that their symptoms are due to asthma (and not lung cancer), it may be too late before they realize the doctor was mistaken.

Though Lavern's Law only applies to cancer patients, it could open the door to further protections for anyone who suffers injuries from medical malpractice.

Categories: Failure to Diagnose