The statute of limitations for medical claims can differ greatly depending on the injury. One such injury that demonstrates this difference is one arising from foreign objects being left inside a person’s body. A foreign object could be almost anything, such as a medical instrument, gauze pad, surgical sponge, or even a wedding ring.
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for medical claims is governed by Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.113. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for medical claims is 1 year from the time the injury should have been discovered. Additionally, there is also something called the statute of repose, which provides that all medical claims must be brought within 4 years after the alleged malpractice actually occurs, regardless of whether or not the injury was discovered or known. This essentially acts as the final deadline for when a claim can be brought for most medical injuries. For example, if medical malpractice was committed in January 2010, and the patient did not discover the injury until January 2015, the patient would not be allowed to bring a lawsuit because it is outside the 4-year window.
In retained foreign object cases, however, the 4-year statute of repose does not apply. Instead, R.C. 2305.113 calls for a modified statute of limitations whereby any claim involving a foreign object being left inside of a person’s body is extinguished 1 year after the foreign object should have been discovered. Thus, this operates to allow persons injured by a foreign object being left inside of them to possibly bring a claim more than 4 years after the alleged malpractice occurred.
If we go back to the prior example, assume the foreign object is left inside the patient’s body in January 2010 and the patient discovers the foreign object shortly after the surgery in February 2010. The statute of limitations would be February 2011. Now assume the patient did not discover the foreign object until January 2015. Here, the statute of limitations would be January 2016, even though the 4-year statute of repose would prevent many other types of medical malpractice claims beginning in January 2014. Take this one step further and assume the patient does not discover the foreign object until January 2030, twenty years after the injury actually occurred. In this instance, the statute of limitations would not expire until January 2031. In sum, cases involving retained foreign objects can provide much more leeway for a patient who may want to investigate possible medical malpractice.
Leeseberg & Valentine has over 75 years of experience in medical malpractice cases – please contact us today if you believe you have a claim.