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Medical Malpractice Basics for New Yorkers

  Alan Fuchsberg  |  January 23, 2015  |  

The last few months of 2014 saw some high-profile medical malpractice claims in the headlines. Melissa Rivers filed a malpractice suit against the New York City clinic where her mother went into cardiac arrest during an outpatient procedure. The Dallas hospital that sent Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan home the first time he visited the emergency room reached a settlement with his family within weeks of his death in October. No one expects to be the victim of malpractice, but it’s good for everyone to understand medical malpractice basics.

How many people have filed claims after their physicians missed an important diagnosis, after they acquired MRSA or C. diff during a hospital stay after a loved one was injured in a fall at a nursing home? More to the point, how many did not file claims?

In New York, you have 2 1/2 years to file a medical malpractice claim before you lose the right forever. The clock starts ticking on either of two dates. The first date is the date the malpractice occurs. That is, the date of the surgery that left went wrong, or the day the birth of your child was mishandled. The second date is the date that your treatment ends, but only under certain circumstances. This could be the day your treatment for C. diff ends if you have been treated in the same hospital where you acquired the infection.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is not always as dramatic as a misdiagnosis of the Ebola virus. Nor is it as obvious as discovering a sponge in your body following surgery or having the wrong knee operated on. Seemingly minor mistakes can have lifelong consequences.

Examples include:

  • Improper treatment
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Errors made during surgery
  • Birth injuries to mother or child

These mistakes are more common than you might think. A doctor or surgeon may not explain the risks of a particular treatment or may not obtain your informed consent to a procedure. The list goes on.

Anyone who has been the victim of medical malpractice can’t help but think the worst has happened. It can take some time to get past the shock and anger. Just don’t wait too long to talk to an attorney about your options. If you suspect that you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, we invite you to contact our law firm for a consultation.

Data Source: Association of the Bar of New York City, “Medical Malpractice,” accessed Jan. 23, 2015

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