Legal Pearl

Court Holds that Doctor’s Negligence Does Not Rise to Fraudulent Concealment of Cancer

Ann W. Latner, JD

  • The Decision

    The case was dismissed based on a state law, which holds that no medical malpractice case may be brought more than 6 years after the alleged act of malpractice. An exception to this statute is if the medical negligence was fraudulently concealed from the family. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s dismissal based on this exception. But the state’s Supreme Court ultimately sided with the lower court and dismissed the case, holding that for the family’s lawsuit to proceed, the family would have had to identify some act of concealment that is independent of the duty to disclose the CT scan results. In other words, the act of concealment must be separate from the act of negligence.

    The Bottom Line:

    The Iowa Supreme Court has held that although a physician was negligent in repeatedly failing to notify a patient that she had a kidney mass, this failure did not reach the level of “fraudulent concealment” and thus, the family’s lawsuit is barred by the state’s statute of limitations.

    Ann W. Latner, JD, is a freelance writer and attorney based in New York. She was formerly the director of periodicals at the American Pharmacists Association and editor of Pharmacy Times.