Earlier this year, one state’s supreme court had the occasion to discuss and adopt the continuing course of treatment doctrine in a medical malpractice case. In the case Parr v. Rosenthal, the court adopted the doctrine, which holds that a medical malpractice claim does not accrue for the purposes of the statute of limitations until the defendant doctor stops treating the plaintiff for the condition giving rise to the lawsuit. However, the plaintiffs were ultimately unsuccessful in their case because, although the court adopted the doctrine, the court also determined that the plaintiffs’ case was not a proper application of the doctrine.
The plaintiffs were the parents of a young boy who was born with a large bump on the back of his leg. After several years of trying to figure out what the bump was and whether it was potentially harmful to their son, it was diagnosed as a desmoid tumor. The plaintiffs were referred to the defendant doctor who was experienced using a novel technique called radio frequency ablation to treat tumors, however, he had never used the technique on a desmoid tumor.
The plaintiffs agreed to have the defendant operate on their son. However, during the operation the boy was badly burned and the procedure could not be completed. The boy was treated by other doctors within the defendant doctor’s practice group, but the defendant was not involved in any of the boy’s follow-up care. Ultimately, the boy’s leg became infected and he needed to have his leg amputated above the knee.