Skin Cancer Death Settlement Is $1 Million

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Wrongful death lawsuit: Failure to biopsy suspicious mole results in delayed diagnosis of maglignent melanoma

The plaintiff’s decedent was a 36-year-old man who died on 5/7/05 from malignant melanoma with liver metastasis. The decedent went to see the defendant PCP in January 2003 for a full physical examination. During the course of this exam, he complained to the defendant about a 1 cm x 1 cm atypical mole on his left calf which he had noticed was changing. The defendant was not concerned about the appearance of the mole and noted it to be either a hemangioma or dermatofibroma (both benign findings). He recommended that the decedent return in 6 months if he wanted to have it removed for cosmetic reasons. Plaintiff’s experts were prepared to testify that the standard of care required biopsy or referral to a surgeon for evaluation of any atypical lesion and the recommendation to wait 6 months was substandard and allowed the lesion to progress and continue its downward growth thereby negatively affecting his prognosis and chance for cure.

Over the course of the next 5 months, the lesion on the calf began to change and the decedent called the defendant’s practice and was seen by one of the defendant’s colleagues. The physician who saw the mole in June 2003 immediately sent the decedent to a surgeon for consultation and biopsy. The surgeon removed the mole and sent for analysis which revealed ulcerating melanoma with downward growth, Clark’s Level IV. In July 2003, wide excision and lymph node dissection were performed revealing clear margins and no involvement of the nodes. The decedent followed with his providers every 4months, however, in March 2005, a mass was found in the liver which was biopsied and diagnosed to be metastatic spread of the melanoma. His prognosis was poor and he succumbed to the disease in May 2005 at the age of 36. He left behind a wife and 3 year old daughter. His son was born just 2 months after his death.

The defendant and experts were prepared to testify that it was within the accepted standard of care to watch a lesion for 6 months to see if the appearance changed in any fashion as the lesion did not have the appearance of a melanoma at the time if was examined in 1/03. They were further prepared to testify that the melanoma had already metastasized as of 1/03 and diagnosis at that time would not have changed the unfortunate outcome.

Trial was scheduled for August 2011 and resolved in the month prior for $1,000,000.

Lubin & Meyer represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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