A bill in both houses of New York's legislature, "Lavern's Law," would extend the medical malpractice statute of limitations. This measure is backed by New York's trial lawyers, and while patients who are the victims of malpractice deserve justice and fair compensation, this proposed law does nothing to further those goals. In fact, it would have negative consequences for our health care system.

New York's world-class doctors and hospitals already spend billions annually on medical malpractice coverage -- the highest in the nation. This legislation would increase these already enormous costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and further divert vital patient care resources.

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New York's medical malpractice statute of limitations is among the longest in the nation, with important exceptions for children and patients undergoing continued treatment.

Unlike New York, many states with provisions similar to those in this bill also have reasonable caps on the amount that can be recovered for pain and suffering, and some even cap total damages.

This proposed legislation is the wrong approach to fix New York's medical malpractice system. We urge the State Legislature to consider a comprehensive package of medical malpractice reforms and reject piecemeal legislation.

Kevin Murray, Port Jefferson

Editor's note: The writer is the senior vice president for administration at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.