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Lavern’s Law

A woman goes to the emergency room complaining of chest pain. The doctor orders an x-ray that reveals a two-centimeter mass in her right lung. The doctor not only fails to warn the woman of these unsettling findings, but fails to acknowledge, address or pursue identifying the irregularity at all.

Two years later the woman returns to the emergency room complaining of a chronic cough. Another x-ray is ordered, revealing the two-centimeter mass has now spread to both her lungs, liver, brain and spine. The doctors give her six months to live.

Lavern Wilkinson was a mother to a child with autism and mental illness who died of lung cancer at the young age of 41. Instead of prolonging her life, the doctors at Lavern’s hospital essentially signed her death sentence by failing to diagnose and treat her cancer for over two years. What started as a readily discernible and highly treatable disease evolved into terminal cancer – preying on stolen time and fateful oversight. One would hope justice would be provided for the medical malpractice that caused a parent’s child to be left alone in the world tragically prematurely. They would be wrong. Until now.

Under the law at the time, Lavern’s daughter and family were not afforded a fighting chance to hold those accountable for the blatant negligence that resulted in her untimely death. The law, as it was written, protected the negligent hospital by barring any claims brought against it within two and a half years of the misdiagnosis. Because Lavern was not properly diagnosed until after this deadline, she was not only robbed of the opportunity to live and watch her daughter grow up, but was also deprived of any form of justice.

In order to fix this injustice in the law, the New York State legislature passed Lavern’s Law. Three weeks ago, it was announced Governor Cuomo officially signed the bill. Lavern’s Law amends the law by allowing a person who has been misdiagnosed with cancer to file a lawsuit up to two and a half years after they find out that a mistake was made. So, while the legal system proved unrelenting in Lavern’s case, it will be forever changed by it.

At Hach & Rose, LLP we are committed to being the voice for those who suffer injustices. The picture below is of Halina Radchenko, an attorney at our law firm, proudly supporting the passing of Lavern’s Law at the New York Women’s March with her son, Anthony, by her side (which was only a matter of days before Governor Cumo signed the bill). Halina, along with the entire staff at Hach & Rose, LLP, do not believe advocating for what is right is a job, but a way of life that must always be embraced.
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