WHY LAVERN’S LAW NEEDS TO BE PASSED
It’s named after a woman, Lavern Wilkinson, who died in 2013 of treatable lung cancer. Her radiologist noticed a suspicious mass in 2010, but Lavern was never told. When she went back more than 2½ later for a chronic cough, she was told she had cancer, that it had spread, and that it was terminal. She left behind an autistic daughter with special needs – and there was no way to achieve justice.
Sadly, this isn’t a unique story. According to a Johns Hopkins study, preventable medical errors are one of the leading causes of death — right behind cancer and heart disease.
New York is one of six states that denies patients their day in court if they don’t find out about the problem in time. New York law only lets patients sue within 2½ years after the medical error occurred (and within only 15 months if a municipal hospital is responsible), NOT when the error was discovered.
Medical errors aren’t inevitable, they’re preventable. Holding doctors and big hospitals accountable is one way to prevent future medical errors and save lives.
Lavern’s Law would remedy New York’s legal systems failure, by starting the statute of limitations when a patient discovers the medical error.
That’s why, earlier this year, the State Assembly passed Lavern’s Law overwhelmingly, as did the State Senate. So why isn’t it law? Quite simply, despite all that support, it hasn’t been brought to the Governor’s desk to sign. New York State should do the right thing and stand up for patients by ensuring that this bill gets signed into law, as the Governor of New York has pledged to do.