Cooperating for better care.

John J. Flanagan

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Bad doctors and good patients


Two lawyers  — Thomas Moore and Steve Cohen — talk about what to do with bad doctors and good patients.

This involves “Lavern’s Law,” a bill that “would have helped grievously injured victims of medical malpractice have their day in court. This summer, the Senate majority leader, John J. Flanagan, a Republican, wouldn’t allow the bill to be voted on, effectively killing it.”

“The bill is named after Lavern Wilkinson, a Brooklyn woman whose curable form of lung cancer went untreated when doctors at Kings County Hospital failed to alert her to a suspicious mass noted on an X-ray taken three years earlier. Ms. Wilkinson died, and her daughter was barred from bringing a lawsuit against the negligent hospital because in New York a victim has only two and a half years from the time of the medical mistake in which to bring an action, not from the time the error was discovered or should have been discovered. The latter standard is the law in 44 states, and Lavern’s Law would have adopted the provision in New York.”

“The opposition to Lavern’s Law came from the hospital and healthcare lobby, apparently concerned that the bill might result in more medical malpractice lawsuits. It very well might, but the actual number would probably be minuscule: Of the hundreds of possible cases we evaluate every year, only a handful are outside the statute of limitations. But it is still hard to tell those victims that neither we nor the judicial system can help them.”




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