Legal Memorandum: Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Issue: When is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice action triggered under Iowa law?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Medical malpractice; Statute of limitations
Jurisdiction: Iowa
Cited Cases: 692 N.W.2d 694; 745 N.W.2d 443; 745 N.W.2d 711
Cited Statutes: Iowa Code § 614.1(9)(a)
Date: 07/01/2012

The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice action is two years:

9.  Malpractice.


a. Except as provided in paragraph “b”, those founded on injuries to the person or wrongful death against any physician and surgeon, osteopathic physician and surgeon, dentist, podiatric physician, optometrist, pharmacist, chiropractor, physician assistant, or nurse, licensed under chapter 147, or a hospital licensed under chapter 135B, arising out of patient care, within two years after the date on which the claimant knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, or received notice in writing of the existence of, the injury or death for which damages are sought in the action, whichever of the dates occurs first, but in no event shall any action be brought more than six years after the date on which occurred the act or omission or occurrence alleged in the action to have been the cause of the injury or death unless a foreign object unintentionally left in the body caused the injury or death.


Iowa Code § 614.1(9)(a).  Iowa law regarding the application of the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case recently underwent a significant change.  In Rathje v. Mercy Hospital, 745 N.W.2d 443 (Iowa 2008), the Iowa Supreme Court discussed in great detail Iowa courts’ application of the medical malpractice statute of limitations, enacted in 1975, in the context of a long history of personal injury statutes of limitations […]

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