A doctor banging his head realizing a mistake he forgot isolated on white background

Patients’ Rights Groups Push for Lavern’s Law

Dozens of patient advocacy groups are pushing Governor Cuomo to sign a bill that makes it easier for victims of misdiagnosed cancer to have their day in court.

More than 60 groups have signed a letter urging the governor to back the bill, known as Lavern’s Law. The legislation would start the window for medical malpractice cases from when the patient discovered the error, instead of when the mistake occurred.

“Some legislation is simply about what’s the right thing to do,” said the groups. “This legislation makes a common-sense change to an obsolete law.”

A person with cancer who is misdiagnosed has 2-1/2 years from the time of the negligent act to file a lawsuit.

Under the new law, that 2-1/2-year window would start when the patient discovered the error. If the negligent act occurred over seven years prior, the patient would be unable to sue.

New York state is just one of six states that does not have a date of discovery law.

The bill died in the Senate two times in the last two years.

The law was proposed after a 41-year-old mom from Brooklyn died in 2013 of curable lung cancer after doctors misdiagnosed her condition. The window to file for medical malpractice had already expired when she attempted to file a lawsuit. The mom left behind a 15-year-old developmentally disabled child who requires constant care.

“New York must correct the injustice that impacts injured patients who are barred from the courthouse before they even realize they’re sick because of medical error,” the groups wrote.

Among the groups who reached out to Cuomo include New York Public Interest Research Group, The New York StateWide Senior Action Council, Consumers Union, Mothers Against Medical Error, Center for Medical Consumers, New Yorkers for Patient & Family Empowerment, and the Nurse’s Association.

The new iteration of the law does not include the one-year window to review cases time-barred under the current law, something that was included in the original law.