Visitor Question

Statute of limitations for improper surgical procedure in California?

Submitted By: Sandy (Round Rock, Texas)

I had rotator cuff surgery with Distal Clavicle Excision in 2005 when I lived in California. I have never fully recovered from that surgery. Since 2005, I’ve lived with chronic pain in the left shoulder girdle, left clavicle, left trapezius, left rhomboid area, and shoulder blade pain, with pain extending down the same left arm.

After several consultations with other orthopedic doctors and several post op MRIs, the root cause of my pain could not be determined. I have been able to find temporary relief with regular deep tissue body work.

Last week I went to see yet another doctor, this time a chiropractor. I asked for an X-ray of my clavicle, since lately that is where I feel most of the pain is concentrated. After seeing the X-ray I was shocked to see how much of my clavicle had been cut off: at least one and a half inches!! The standard is 1/4 – 1/2 inch.

After extensive research on the web for the standard procedures for DCE, I now understand the root cause of my ongoing pain since 2005…

Since such an excessive amount of bone was removed from the end of my left clavicle, this made my entire shoulder joint unstable, and in turn sets off a myriad of other joint and soft tissue problems surrounding the joint, to even include rotation of the scapula.

I will now have to do some research to see if there are any medical procedures to extend the clavicle and to fix whatever else is causing me chronic pain. Is it too late to file a medical malpractice lawsuit (surgery was done in California)? Any information you can provide would be appreciated. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Sandy,

While you presently reside in the State of Texas, California law will apply to your claim. Unfortunately, in the State of California, under California Civil Procedure § 340.5:

“A medical malpractice action for injury or death must be brought within one year from the date the claimant (you) discovered the negligent act, but no more than three years from the date of injury.”

Under the most liberal interpretation of California Civil Procure, the statute of limitations has long expired. As a result, you are barred from a legal claim of medical malpractice.

It certainly would be be appropriate, after your upcoming research, to contact the original surgeon and ask why he cut off so much of your clavicle. There may have been a viable medical reason for doing so. You won’t know unless you ask.

You can also ask the original surgeon to turn over to you copies of all your medical records, so that you might have a better understanding of why he did what he did.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 17, 2014

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