The devastating effects of a medical error made by a physician or practitioner can take on many forms. Whether the medical error was the result of pursuing the wrong course of treatment or the lack of treatment completely, the consequences and errors may not be fully realized until long after the initial mistake occurred.
Unfortunately, medical errors occur every day across the country. And many of those mistakes are similar to the story coming out of New York City of a woman who died of lung cancer after doctors reading her X-rays failed to warn her of the mass growing on her lung.
When original X-rays were taken and reviewed, the illness was curable. However, after going untreated for three years, the mass continued to develop. All the while the woman was never told her diagnosis and remained unaware of the tumor developing in her lung.
When she finally succumbed to the disease, her family was unable to pursue legal action against the hospital, as the statute of limitations have passed. Her case was the inspiration for a bill that has now been nicknamed "Lavern's Law."
Designed to allow victims of medical negligence to pursue a lawsuit within two and a half years of when the medical error was discovered, Lavern's Law would provide victims of medical negligence a just opportunity to pursue compensation for medical mistakes that may not manifest themselves for some time.
The bill, which has received opposition in New York state, has been adopted by 44 other states across the nation. A large reason for the staunch opposition is the anticipation of a significant increase in medical malpractice cases brought against hospitals and doctors.
Out of hundreds of thousands of avoidable injures and death that result each year from medical mistakes, less than one percent of them result in lawsuit. And an even smaller percentage of those result in suspensions, license loss, or sanctions against doctors.
Patients come to hospitals hoping to be relieved of illness and injury. As long as bills like Lavern's Law continue to receive opposition, hospitals can continue to dodge responsibility and may never be forced to raise their standards of practice to prioritize patient safety.