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Supreme Court rules medical malpractice suit filed too late

Scott Lauck//April 9, 2020

Supreme Court rules medical malpractice suit filed too late

Scott Lauck//April 9, 2020

The Supreme Court ruled March 31 that a woman who alleged she was left infertile by a 2012 surgery cannot sue, despite having continued to receive care for several years at the same clinic.

Do you know what is the statute of limitations on medical malpractice in georgia?

Sharon Newton underwent surgery at Mercy Clinic OB/GYN in St. Louis County to remove an ovarian cyst in 2012. She was treated until 2013 for a post-operative infection.

Newton returned to the same doctor in early 2015 for a gynecological exam, where she learned that her fallopian tubes had been damaged. She and her husband filed a medical negligence suit in 2016.

Although malpractice claims generally must be brought within two years of the negligent act, Newton argued that she fell under the “continuing care” exception to the statute of limitations. Under that common-law exception, the statute of limitations is tolled until “the cessation of the necessity that gave rise to the relationship.”

Writing for the unanimous court, Judge Paul C. Wilson said the end of care “is to be determined using an objective standard without inquiry into what the physician knew or should have known.” Treatment for the infection that followed the original surgery ended at the latest on June 18, 2013, so the Newtons had two years from that date to file suit.

It didn’t matter that the alleged damage from the surgery wasn’t discovered until that time nearly had expired, the court said.

The case is Newton v. Mercy Clinic East Communities et al., SC97687.

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