What happens when medical errors are discovered after two years?

If a patient is injured by a doctor’s negligence, he or she may have a legal right to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, patients may not always realize that their condition resulted from a medical mistake or error.

For example, some errors might be easily detectable, such as a surgical error or medication error that results in a complication or severe patient reaction. Yet what about a misdiagnosis? If a doctor fails to draw the correct conclusion from a patient’s symptoms, months or even years might elapse. During that time, a patient’s condition can deteriorate and new symptoms might emerge. If that patient were to file a lawsuit, is it possible to prove that a certain set of conditions was present on a previous date?

Our law firm focuses on personal injury law, including medical malpractice. We have helped patients utilize the law to hold hospitals and providers accountable when the care they received fell below professional standards. Yet as a recent article reminds us, there are legal requirements and procedures that must be observed when filing a medical malpractice claim, including a statute of limitations. That patient in that story was barred from filing a claim because it was untimely.

For example, Alabama state law requires that a claim against a doctor must be brought within two years of the incident unless the negligence could not have been detected within that limitations period. In such event, a claim must be brought within six months of when the medical negligence was or should have been discovered, whichever is earlier. Ala. Code § 6-5-482 (1993). Check out our firm’s medical malpractice website to learn more about our approach.

Source: The New York Times, “When Bad Doctors Happen to Good Patients,” Thomas Moore and Steve Cohen, Aug. 31, 2015

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