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“Continuing Course of Treatment” Doctrine May Be Used to Extend the Statute of Limitations in Some Medical Malpractice Cases

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued an opinion that will be of interest to anyone considering bringing a medical malpractice action now or in the near future. The case of Cefaratti v. Aranow presented an opportunity for the court to discuss and apply the “continuing course of treatment” doctrine, which can be used in some cases to extend a statute of limitations.

Surgeon in MaskThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, Cefaratti, suffered from morbid obesity and was being treated by the defendants. At some point, the defendants recommended that the plaintiff have gastric bypass surgery, and the plaintiff consented. The surgery was performed, but afterward the plaintiff noticed that there was significant pain in her midsection. She attended several follow-up visits over the course of the next few years, but the pain persisted.

Approximately six years after the surgery, the plaintiff was seen by another doctor after developing breast cancer. As a part of the treatment for that disease, she underwent a CT scan procedure. That procedure indicated that there was foreign material in her body. She returned to the surgeon who performed the gastric bypass surgery, and he informed her that it was a surgical sponge that had been left in her body. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon and other related parties.

Before the trial commenced, the defendants asked the court to dismiss the case against them because the plaintiff did not file her case within the three-year window allowed by the statute of limitation. The plaintiff responded that the “continuing course of treatment” doctrine tolled the statute of limitations, and she did bring the lawsuit within a reasonable amount of time after the defendant ceased his course of treatment.

The court agreed that under these facts, the continuing course of treatment doctrine tolled the statute of limitations. The court explained that there are three factors that must be met:

  • The plaintiff had an identifiable medical condition that required treatment;
  • The defendant provided treatment after the alleged act of negligence; and
  • The plaintiff brought the lawsuit with the relevant period, outlined by the statute of limitations, after the cessation of the defendant’s treatment.

The court noted that the woman’s morbid obesity was an ongoing medical issue for which the defendant treated her before and after the alleged act of negligence. In so doing, the court rejected the defendants’ position that the “medical condition” was the sponge left in her body, of which she had no knowledge and for which she did not seek treatment from the defendant.

Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of medical malpractice in Georgia, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been put through. However, these cases can often be extremely complex, requiring medical or scientific expert testimony on certain subjects. It is best to consult with a dedicated Marietta personal injury attorney who has experience with these cases. At Miller Legal Services, we pride ourselves on our broad base of experience across all areas of personal injury law. Call 770-284-3727 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney who will be happy to discuss your case with you free of charge. There is no fee for our services unless we are ultimately able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

The Element of Foreseeability in Georgia Personal Injury Cases, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 3, 2016.

Lawsuit Stemming from Unsafe Fence Dismissed Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Submit Necessary Evidence of Negligence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2016.