Dermatologist Fails To Conduct Biopsy For Patient With Melanoma Symptoms

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Written by
— Updated on April 10, 2019

Dermatology ExpertThis case involves a 52-year-old female patient who regularly saw a dermatologist. The defendant dermatologist noted an abnormal finding on the patient’s cheek. Although the dermatologist noted the finding in the patient’s records, he failed to ever biopsy it. The patient visited a cancer center two and a half years after the original detection of the abnormal finding. The area was biopsied and the patient was diagnosed with advanced stage melanoma. A dermatologist with expertise in skin cancer was sought to opine on what effect a delay in the diagnosis of this length might have on a patient’s melanoma prognosis.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you routinely treat patients with melanomas?
  • 2. Are you able to opine on the standard of care regarding when to biopsy an abnormal finding?

Expert Witness Response E-028773

I am an expert in skin cancer. I previously oversaw the division of dermatologic surgery at an Ivy League university medical center. My practice is exclusive to skin cancer and surgery only. I see many melanoma patients and have lectured on this topic. If a lesion is noted to be abnormal and noted in the medical record, it should be biopsied or followed up in a few months. If not biopsied, there should be a clear reason why. I would be able to provide an opinion as to whether or not the delay in diagnosis affected the patient’s prognosis.

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