Georgia law imposes a strict two-year statute of limitations on medical negligence claims. Indeed, many potentially viable malpractice claims have been lost because the plaintiff has failed to file a timely complaint. However, as a recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals shows, clever pleading can, at least in some instances, help preserve a plaintiff’s day in court.
The case, Smith v. Danson, arose from an alleged act of medical negligence that occurred in February 2011. At that time, the plaintiff in this action underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy, which was performed by the defendant physician. Following the procedure, the defendant allegedly told the plaintiff that her stomach was firm because excess gas had been pumped into her stomach during the procedure. The plaintiff was discharged two days later and was scheduled for an initial post-operative checkup on March 16, 2011. The plaintiff alleges that she initially felt fine following the procedure but that she began to experience deleterious symptoms shortly thereafter. The plaintiff went back to the defendant for her checkup and after the examination asked what she should do about the gas in her stomach. The defendant suggested changes in diet, including an increased intake of probiotics. The plaintiff’s symptoms continued to worsen, and she soon sought medical treatment from other health care providers. The plaintiff ultimately discovered that she had a kidney obstruction that was likely caused when the kidney was clamped down during the surgery. The plaintiff also alleged she was told that her bladder had been nicked during the procedure. The injuries had caused urine to build up in her abdomen, and the plaintiff had to undergo several corrective surgical procedures.