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    How continuous treatment rules can make lawsuits thrive

    Doctrine allows patient to challenge physician’s care after course of treatment has ended

    In general terms, a malpractice action accrues on the date of the wrongful act of the health care provider. When the wrong is one single act, such as a wrong-site surgical procedure, it is easy to identify the accrual date and calculate the statute of limitations. Where, however, the wrong is actually a course of treatment over time, some states provide that the statute of limitations can be tolled where there is evidence of a certain course of “continuous treatment.”

    Read: Could necrotizing fasciitis have been diagnosed sooner?

    In New York, this toll is prescribed by law that states, “An action for medical, dental or podiatric malpractice must be commenced within two years and six months of the act, omission or failure complained of or last treatment where there is continuous treatment for the same illness, injury or condition which gave rise to the said act, omission or failure…” [boldface added for emphasis].  

    Related: How to avoid malpractice suits related to APPs

    Next: "What does this mean for urologists?"

    Brianne Goodwin, JD, RN
    Ms. Goodwin is manager of clinical risk and patient safety at Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA.

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