Many states have laws requiring patients to file medical malpractice claims by a defined time period. If the patient misses the defined time period, he/she may see the claim quickly tossed. However, a recent Wyoming Supreme Court reversed a malpractice ruling citing that the District Court Judge wrongly ruled that plaintiff failed to timely file his malpractice claim against a Medical Center. Wyoming law says these claims must be brought within two years of the alleged act(s). Although the Medical Center’s argument may have been valid on its face (i.e., the patient’s injury caused by the Medical Center’s alleged negligence occurred over two years prior to the patient filing its claim), the Supreme Court Justices ruled that this was inconsistent with the continuous treatment rule (i.e., the alleged misconduct continues until the defendant physician(s) stops continuing care for the complaint).
Medical malpractice attorneys have been seeing this issue arise more frequently the last few years. Although judges have likely always had different interpretations of the language in the rule, more judges are vocalizing and acting on these different interpretations. As this trend continues, the statute of limitations period will likely continue to increase.