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Fresno, California

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David Rowell
David Rowell
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Lawsuit Upheld Over Missed Cancer Diagnosis

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Pamela Rock sued her doctors and others claiming that, through their negligence, her breast cancer was not diagnosed in a timely fashion and worsened and spread into her lymph nodes, a much more serious condition.

The defendants didn’t argue that Ms. Rock was not injured or that they hadn’t made any mistakes. Instead they argued that Ms. Rock didn’t file her claim in a timely fashion, that she had missed the "statute of limitations," and that her claim had to be dismissed.

The trial court agreed, and dismissed her suit. When she appealed, the Court of Appeals agreed and upheld the dismissal. Ms. Rock and her lawyer persisted, however and, on Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court overruled the dismissal, ruling that Ms. Rock’s claim was not barred; the Court sent the case back for trial.

These events have several important implications for consumers. One is that consumers MUST be actively involved in their own health care. Although we hate to think it, doctors, nurses and other health care providers DO make mistakes. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine (a part of The National Academies) indicates that "44,000 [and maybe as many as] 98,000 . . . Americans die each year from medical errors." Indeed, says the report, "more people die in a given year as a result of medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS."

Given these numbers, consumers simply cannot afford to be complacent about their own health care. Be involved, ask questions, look up your provider on HealthGrades. com. Consumers MUST take steps to ensure that they and their loved ones are not the next victims of medical errors.

The other point is that, although the Iowa Supreme Court gave Ms. Rock another chance to get justice, the rule followed by the trial court and the Court of Appeal IS the rule in every State. If your claim is not filed in a timely fashion, YOU HAVE NO REMEDY at law.

If you think you may have been injured due to a medical error, you must act NOW to get more information. If you have a lawyer, ask him or her for advice. If you don’t, contact your State or county Bar Association, contact the local Trial Lawyers Association, GET MORE INFORMATION NOW.