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Court Rules the New York Continuous Treatment Doctrine Does Not Toll the Statute of Limitations for the Failure to Diagnose

Medical malpractice cases, like any civil lawsuit, must be pursued within the time frame established by the statute of limitations. While the courts strictly construe the statute of limitations for pursuing a medical malpractice claim in New York, there are certain circumstances that allow a plaintiff to toll the statutory period, such as the continuous treatment doctrine. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York recently held the continuous treatment doctrine does not toll the statute of limitations for a failure to diagnose, in a case in which the plaintiff who was harmed by his doctor’s failure to diagnose and treat his kidney cancer in a timely manner sought leave to amend his complaint to add additional claims. If you sustained damages due to your physician’s failure to diagnose or treat your illness, it is vital to recovery to meet with a proficient Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case.

The Plaintiff’s Care

It is alleged that the plaintiff treated at the defendant hospital for kidney issues for several years. He began treating in 2006 when a lesion was observed on his kidney on a CT scan. Subsequent scans in 2009, 2010, and 2011, showed the lesion as well, but no diagnosis or treatment was provided for the lesion. In 2011, the plaintiff treated with a urologist who advised him to wait six months and then follow-up, and in 2012 he underwent an ultrasound that indicated the lesion was suspicious for carcinoma. He then underwent surgery to remove the lesion, which was diagnosed as renal cell carcinoma.

It is reported that the plaintiff subsequently filed a malpractice lawsuit against the hospital due to the delay in diagnosing his cancer. The plaintiff’s complaint only included the defendant’s negligent failure to diagnose his cancer from 2009 onward, as the earlier claims were precluded by the statute of limitations. The defendant then produced an expert report that stated that there was no progression of the cancer from 2009 to 2012. In response, the plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint, to add additional negligence claims for the failure to properly diagnose his cancer from 2006 to 2009, arguing that the amendment was permitted under the continuous treatment doctrine.

The Continuous Treatment Doctrine

The court denied the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend, finding that the continuous treatment doctrine did not operate to toll the statute of limitations. Here, the plaintiff argued that the defendant’s failure to diagnose and treat his kidney cancer in 2006 arose out of the same course of treatment that continued until he was ultimately diagnosed. The court noted that the continuous treatment doctrine allows a plaintiff to delay in filing a lawsuit so that he or she may continue to receive treatment without harming the patient-doctor relationship. The court held, however, that the failure to diagnose or treat a condition does not qualify as a continuous course of treatment under the doctrine. Specifically, the court held that the failure to treat could not establish a course of treatment. Thus, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend the claim.

Speak with a Trusted Syracuse Malpractice Attorney Regarding Your Doctor’s Failure to Diagnose or Treat you in a Timely Manner

If you suffered adverse effects to your health due to your doctor’s failure to diagnose or treat you in a timely manner you should speak with a trusted Syracuse malpractice attorney regarding your case and what compensation you may be awarded for your harm. The knowledgeable failure to diagnose malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have the skills and experience to needed to help you navigate the legal complexities of your case. We can be reached at 833-200-2000 or through the online form to discuss your case confidentially.


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