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Apr 162012
 

What is the Statute of Limitations in Misdiagnosis Cases?

Last updated: November 18, 2015 | Published: April 16, 2012

Under Pennsylvania medical malpractice law, the statute of limitations to file a claim for medical malpractice is two years from the date of the injury. For example, a surgeon makes a mistake during an abdominal surgery. In general, the 2 year clock starts ticking on the date of the surgery. There is one main exception: the discovery rule.

In many failure to diagnose, negligent diagnosis or misdiagnosis cases, the statute of limitations is often at issue. In these situations, the patient might not discover the negligence until after the two year period has expired. However, Pennsylvania’s discovery rule may apply, allowing the plaintiff to file suit after the two year period.

Under Pennsylvania law, in failure to diagnose cases, the discovery rule may toll or stall the statute of limitations until the proper diagnosis is made. In other words, the injured plaintiff’s statute begins ticking when he or she knew or should have known of the doctor/specialist’s negligence in diagnosis.

MacCain v. Montgomery Hospital is a 1990 Pennsylvania Superior Court failure to diagnose case in which the plaintiff had a mammogram with a positive finding, but was not advised of the results. One year later, she was diagnosed with cancer.  However, she failed to file suit within two years after being diagnosed. Her claim was later dismissed as a result of being outside the statute of limitations.

chest and lung xrayIn upholding denial of her claim, the Superior Court stated:

“a plaintiff need not know that she has been injured by someone’s negligent conduct for the limitations period to begin running. There is no question that at the time she was told she had cancer, [plaintiff] should have been alerted to the fact that the earlier mammogram had been misread or that she had been misinformed…[Plaintiff] knew in October of 1984 that she had cancer and she also knew that [the doctor] had told her she did not have cancer in October of 1983. Therefore, she should have been aware that a mistake was made with regard to the first mammogram.”

These cases need immediate review by a qualified medical malpractice lawyer, as well as a team of medical experts who can determine whether there was malpractice.

To submit your potential medical negligence case for review by our Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyers, call 800.220.7600.  Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

**This website does not provide legal advice.  Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case.  See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.