The Ohio Court of Appeals Ninth Judicial Circuit (“Ohio Appellate Court”) ruled in a case it decided on March 14, 2018 that the plaintiff’s Ohio medical malpractice lawsuit was untimely because it was not filed within Ohio’s one year statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits.
Absent an exception, medical malpractice actions in Ohio must be commenced within one year after the cause of action accrued. R.C. 2305.113(A) provides, in part: “[A] cause of action for medical malpractice accrues * * * (a) when the patient discovers or, in the exercise of reasonable care and diligence should have discovered, the resulting injury, or (b) when the physician-patient relationship for that condition terminates, whichever occurs later.”
Following a “cognizable event” that places the patient on actual or constructive awareness of the injury, the patient has a duty to (1) determine whether the injury suffered is the proximate result of malpractice and (2) ascertain the identity of the tortfeasor or tortfeasors.
In the case the Ohio Appellate Court was deciding, the defendant surgeon performed surgery on the plaintiff on May 20, 2014. As part of the procedure, the defendant surgeon placed a drain, which was removed at the defendant’s office on May 29, 2014. Following the removal of the drain, the plaintiff experienced pain in his side and had blood in his urine, causing him to be hospitalized from June 2 to June 11, 2014.
On June 11, 2015, the plaintiff filed his medical malpractice complaint against the defendant surgeon and the hospital where the surgery took place. The plaintiff later dismissed his medical malpractice action and re-filed it in April 2016.
Following discovery, the defendant surgeon and hospital moved for summary judgment, alleging that the plaintiff’s Ohio medical malpractice claim was barred under the one-year statute of limitations. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, concluding that the plaintiff discovered his potential claim by June 2, 2014, and that the plaintiff terminated his physician-patient relationship with the defendant surgeon on that day. The plaintiff subsequently appealed.
The Ohio Appellate Court Decision
The plaintiff argued on appeal that he did not discover the defendant surgeon’s medical negligence until he was discharged from the hospital on June 11, 2014, at which time he received the diagnosis that was the cognizable event that started the running of the statute of limitations, and not his initial admission to the hospital.
The Ohio Appellate Court cited the plaintiff’s deposition testimony that the staff at the defendant surgeon’s office improperly removed the drain that was placed during his surgery, ripping his insides in three places; that the injury caused him to start bleeding out of his penis that night and later developed into an infection; that it hurt from the moment that the defendant surgeon’s staff finished removing the drain up until the time he returned to the hospital; that the pain from the drain removal was in his side whereas his pain from the initial surgery was in the front; and, that after being readmitted to the hospital on June 2, 2014, he spoke with the defendant surgeon and told him about the mistakes he and his staff had made, including the removal of the drain, and therefore stopped treating with the defendant surgeon on that date.
The Ohio Appellate Court held that in viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, the pain and bleeding that he experienced after the removal of the drain, leading him to be readmitted to the hospital on June 2, 2014, were a cognizable event that made or should have made him aware that the defendant surgeon may have committed medical malpractice. Therefore, the trial court correctly determined that the statute of limitations on the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims began to run by June 2, 2014. Because the plaintiff did not file his action until June 11, 2015, the Ohio Appellate Court held that the trial court correctly determined that his medical malpractice claims were barred under Revised Code Section 2305.113(A).
Source Cartwright v. Akron Gen. Med. Sys., 2018-Ohio-938.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm as a result of medical negligence in Ohio or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Ohio medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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