New York patients and their families who believe they have sufficient cause to file a medical malpractice suit have only two and half years after the incident to launch a suit. Detractors of this regulation argue that this is not enough time for the effects of some types of malpractice to become evident. The statute of limitations is too brief, they say. A new bill launched by New York Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein would change this.
Under the proposed legislation, the statute of limitations would not begin until the person discovers the injury and would have a filing period of 10 years. Ms. Weinstein’s measure has a corresponding sponsor in the Senate, where Sen. Thomas Libous has sponsored the legislation and has as many as 33 cosponsors.
Weinstein cites the situation faced by New Yorker Lavern Wilkinson. In 2013, Wilkinson died at age 41 from a curable form of lung cancer that had gone undetected in a 2010 examination by physicians at Kings County Hospital. The cancer was diagnosed in 2012, but by then the current New York law stipulated that the 15-month statute of limitations had expired. A campaign by the New York Daily News to pass what it calls “Laverne’s Law” has tracked the bill’s progress and secured endorsements from several interest groups.
Weinstein’s bill passed the assembly in mid-June as the legislative session was about to end, 99-23. While New York Governor Cuomo has told the Daily News that he would sign the legislation if passed, its fate in the Senate is unclear as of this writing. A majority in the Republican-controlled Senate say they support the bill, but the Senate Majority leader has not said whether he will allow the legislation to be brought up for a vote.
The legislation is opposed by sectors of the healthcare community. They fear it will inflate already high malpractice insurance rates.