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Skin cancer and diagnostic errors

| Aug 13, 2020 | Failure To Diagnose |

Summer weather means more time outdoors. It also means greater concerns for skin cancer. While individuals in Oregon and elsewhere take measures to protect their skin from harmful rays emitted from the sun, this does not always prevent skin cancer from occur. Thus, when a person is concerned about an abnormality they found on their skin or they have a family history of skin cancer, they will seek medical consultation and trust when a medical professional has to say. However, if skin cancer is not properly or timely diagnosed, it could result in great harm to the health and life of the patient.

Failure to diagnose skin cancer

Dermatopathologists are the medical professionals who specialize in diagnosing skin diseases at the microscopic level. Based on current data, this subspecialty is ranked second highest when it comes to medical malpractice verdicts over $1 million. The most common reason for these malpractice claims is misdiagnosed skin cancer.

When these medical professionals look at skin biopsies, they may not initially see anything. This results is no further testing or a second opinion. In the end, this could cause a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis of a skin issues suffered by the patient.

Diagnostic testing for skin cancer

Because the misdiagnosis of skin cancer is notably high, medical professionals often change how they handle diagnostic testing in general. A recent study found that these specialists are motivated by patient safety concerns and the fear of malpractice action when they order additional testing and obtain a second opinion. This study found that 90% of dermatopathologists order additional microscopic tests for their patients citing safety concern, while 71% report that they have fears of malpractice.

While ordering additional tests could help provide answers, they could also be pointless tests that do not provide any diagnoses. When diagnostic errors occur, it is not only the tests ordered that matter. While not ordering the correct or even additional testing could be the cause for misdiagnosis, not analyzing the results of the tests properly could also lead to a cancer misdiagnosis.

Patients that have suffered a cancer diagnostic error should understand their rights. A medical malpractice claim could help determine the cause of the misdiagnosis and the medical professionals accountable for it. This could help the harmed patient address the losses and damages caused by the misdiagnosis.

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