In 2012, Lissy McMahon seemed to be a healthy 42-year-old single mom raising her son. An ultrasound revealed a fibroid in her uterus that needed to be removed, so she decided to have surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York to be closer to family during recovery.
But more than two years later, she started having severe back pain.
“They found a huge tumor in the middle of my back,” she said.
Lissy was diagnosed with stage four cancer in the uterus, liver, and back.
The doctor delivered more devastating news, saying that after reviewing the 2012 pathology slides from Lenox Hill, there was evidence of cancer on 10 out of 40.
Lissy wanted to sue Lenox Hill but couldn’t because of New York state law. The current laws require claims of medical malpractice to be filed within 15 months after they occur.
“I was told that the window of time that I would have had to seek restitution for this mistake closed before I even knew I had cancer,” the now 46-year-old single mother says.
Fortunately, cases like Lissy’s are being taken into consideration and a new bill is being put forth to address them.
The bill would amend the statute of limitations on such cases to start the clock when a patient first realizes they were possibly misdiagnosed or harmed by a medical professional — as long as the lawsuit is filed within 10 years of the original incident.
The Medical Society of the State of New York opposes the change, saying it would make medical malpractice insurance far more expensive and lead to “disastrous” increases in health care costs.
Supporters of the change say that when it comes to conditions such as cancer, it can take several years for a patient to realize they were misdiagnosed or mistreated by a physician or other medical professional.
Lissy is now a leading supporter in the effort to pass the bill.
Medication errors alone harm at least 1.5 million people annually, and the new bill may just help those patients as well.
The bill is titled Lavern’s Law, after a Brooklyn mother who died from a curable form of lung cancer in 2013.
Lavern’s Law has significant support with the state Assembly’s Democratic majority but faces obstacles in the Republican-led Senate. No vote is currently scheduled, but lawmakers plan to adjourn their session for the year later this month.