The statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions is tolled when a patient continuously obtains treatment for a medical condition

New York



A medical malpractice action must be commenced within 2.5 years of the last treatment for the same illness, injury, or condition that gave rise to the alleged act, omission, or failure In Chvetsova v. Family Smile Dental, NY Slip Op 00650 (2d Dep’t February 2, 2022), the plaintiff brought an action against the defendants for damages for medical malpractice (and other grounds) stemming from an oral surgery that did not result in the expected outcome. The defendants brought a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the claims were time-barred.The New York Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed the decision of the Supreme Court which had granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint.The Court explained that pursuant to CPLR 214-a, in the context of continuous treatment, an action must be commenced within two and one-half years of the last treatment for the same illness, injury, or condition that gave rise to the alleged act, omission, or failure. Under the continuous treatment doctrine, the limitation period is tolled until the end of the course of treatment if the following three conditions are satisfied:the patient continued to seek, and obtained, an actual course of treatment from the defendant during the relevant period;the course of treatment was for the same conditions or complaints underlying the plaintiff’s claim; and,the treatment is continuous.There may be continuity of treatment when further treatment is explicitly anticipated by both the physician and patient, as manifested in the form of a regularly scheduled appointment for the near future. However, a discharge by a physician does not preclude tolling if the patient timely initiates a return visit to complain about, and seek further treatment for, conditions related to the earlier treatment.The Court held that there were triable issues of fact with respect to whether the limitation period had been tolled. A trial was required in order to assess whether the plaintiff initiated timely return visits to complain and seek corrective treatment from the defendants such that the dentist’s purported discharge of the plaintiff did not sever the course of treatment, or whether the treatment that the dentist provided following the initial surgery was a mere continuation of the general dentist-patient relationship, which would be insufficient to toll the statute of limitations with respect to the oral surgery performed by the dentist.

April 14, 2022
Chvetsova v Family Smile Dental, 2022 NY Slip Op 00650
New York Courts