The Statute of Limitations in Foreign Object Medical Malpractice Cases

In every civil action, plaintiffs must commence a suit within a very specific period of time.  The amount of time one has will vary depending on the claim.  Claims founded in medical malpractice have a 2 ½ year statute of limitations.  Time starts to tick once the act or omission being claimed has occurred.  This time period will start even if the patient is not yet aware that he or she has been the victim of medical malpractice.

There is an exception, however, that may extend the time in which a plaintiff has to commence suit.  Certain medical malpractice cases involve foreign objects being inadvertently left in a patient’s body.  It could take more than several years for a patient to discover the object.  New York courts have recognized this problem and adjusted the limitations period to accommodate these types of malpractice. 

This recognition first came about through case law in Flanagan v. Mount Eden General Hospital and was later enacted into law in 1975.  Known in the legal profession as the ‘discovery rule’, plaintiff’s who are suing because of foreign object malpractice have one year after the object was discovered to commence suit.  This applies even if the discovery occurred after 2 ½ years has already passed. 

Courts strictly apply this rule to foreign objects that were inadvertently placed in a patient’s body.  For example, while a pacemaker is not naturally found in a person’s body, it is not considered to be a foreign object.  This is because the pacemaker was put into the patient to treat the patient’s medical condition.  Therefore, only objects that should not have been placed into the patient are considered to be foreign objects.  Surgical clamps, gloves, sponges, and syringes are typical examples of foreign objects that medical professionals have left inside of patients giving rise to a negligence claim based on medical malpractice.

Victims of this type of negligence may suffer from extreme pain and discomfort for years until doctors finally find the problem.  If you or a loved one has endured this type of harm, an experienced Hudson medical malpractice attorney may be able to help.  You may be able to receive compensation for wages that you lost from missing work, money spent on additional medical care, and even for your pain and suffering.  Medical malpractice cases can be very complex.  Contact our attorneys today for help.    

The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle medical malpractice case throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.