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Letter: New York needs to reform outdated malpractice laws

New York needs to reform outdated malpractice laws

New Yorkers depend on doctors and hospitals to give them quality care. Because patients trust their expertise, they rarely question their diagnoses. That’s why it’s so shocking to hear when a misdiagnosis has occurred and that patients have had diseases go untreated for months, or even years (“Medical malpractice needs more thoughtful reform”).

With many diseases, early detection can make the difference. For example, an accurate diagnosis of cancer can lead to early and successful treatment. When that diagnosis is wrong, patients may never know of the disease until it’s more deadly. Getting the diagnosis right is vital, and when that doesn’t happen, it’s important for those responsible to be held accountable.

Unfortunately, under New York law if someone wants to bring a legal action against those who got it wrong, he can do so only within 2½ years after the date of the injury – not after he discovered the injury.

Lavern’s Law is a common-sense solution to fix that problem. Lavern’s Law would reset the timer for bringing a legal action against those responsible for a medical injury from the date a misdiagnosis is discovered, and not the date of the original misdiagnosis.

New York is one of only six states that does not have date of discovery medical malpractice regulations. It’s time that New York reformed its outdated system.

Blair Horner

Legislative Director, New York Public Interest Research Group