New York Appellate Court Applies Continuous Treatment Doctrine To Save Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice Case

In its opinion filed on April 28, 2018, a New York appellate court reversed summary judgment for the defendant cardiologist in a New York medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was medically negligent in prescribing the drug Pradaxa in combination with the plaintiff’s contemporaneous use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), failing to monitor the plaintiff for the development of gastric bleeding, and failing to recognize and treat the plaintiff’s development of a life-threatening gastric ulcer caused by the combination of Pradaxa and NSAIDs.

The Underlying Facts

On January 10, 2011, the defendant cardiologist prescribed Pradaxa as part of a treatment plan for the plaintiff’s atrial fibrillation and other cardiac issues. At each and every subsequent office visit over a period of nearly two years, the defendant confirmed and noted that the plaintiff’s medication regimen included the simultaneous use of Pradaxa and NSAIDs.

On January 2, 2013, the plaintiff went to the defendant for treatment that the defendant described as “urgent cardiology followup” based upon the plaintiff’s complaints of shortness of breath, etc. The defendant noted the plaintiff’s ongoing use of Pradaxa and NSAIDs, but made no changes in his medication regimen. The defendant scheduled a follow-up visit for the plaintiff for April 3, 2013.

On January 16, 2013, the plaintiff underwent emergency hospitalization and was treated for severe blood loss due to an acute upper gastrointestinal tract bleed.

The plaintiff filed his New York medical malpractice lawsuit against the cardiologist on July 2, 2015. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint arguing that the action was time-barred because it accrued on January 10, 2011, the date of the initial prescription of Pradaxa, which was more than 2-and-1/2 years prior to the commencement of the action. The plaintiff opposed the motion on the ground that the action accrued on the date of the January 2, 2013 office visit, which was within 2-and-1/2 years of commencement, and as an alternative ground he asserted that the continuous treatment doctrine tolled the statute of limitations until January 2, 2013.

The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, determining that the continuous treatment doctrine did not apply, that the medical malpractice cause of action accrued on the date of the first prescription for Pradaxa, and that the commencement of the action more than 2-and-1/2 years later was untimely. The plaintiff appealed.

New York Appellate Court Opinion

The New York appellate court stated that a medical malpractice claim generally accrues on the date of the alleged wrongful act, omission or failure and is governed by a 2-and-1/2 year statute of limitations (CPLR 214-a). However, a physician has a duty to monitor a patient’s use of medications prescribed by the physician. Thus, the claims based on allegations of negligent treatment during the January 2, 2013 office visit have an independent viability regardless of whether any prior alleged negligence is time-barred.

The New York appellate court also agreed with the plaintiff that the record establishes that the defendant provided continuous treatment to the plaintiff for a condition, i.e., atrial fibrillation, until January 2, 2013; that the alleged wrongful acts or omissions were related to that condition; and, that such treatment gave rise to the act, omission or failure complained of (CPLR 214-a).

The New York appellate court concluded that “plaintiff’s claims that defendants were negligent on January 2, 2013 in failing to monitor plaintiff’s use of Pradaxa in combination with NSAIDs and in failing to diagnose and treat the alleged existence of gastric bleeding at that particular visit are not time-barred;” rejected “defendants’ contention that the statute of limitations began to run at the time of the first prescription of Pradaxa on January 10, 2011;” and, “conclude[d] that the court erred in granting the motion inasmuch as this action was timely commenced within 21/2 years of the cessation of defendants’ continuous treatment of plaintiff’s atrial fibrillation condition.”

Source Phillips v Buffalo Heart Group, LLP, 2018 NY Slip Op 03055 [160 AD3d 1495].

If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of medical negligence in New York or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in New York or in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 30th, 2018 at 5:24 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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