When people hear about medical malpractice, they typically think about a doctor or surgeon, not a dermatologist.
Dermatology is not an area of medicine where there are a lot of medical malpractice lawsuits, but they do happen, and when they do, the jury awards in cases like this can be quite high. For medical professionals, including those who practice dermatology, it is vital to clearly communicate with a patient about any treatments or procedures to be undertaken to avoid a lawsuit. If a mistake is made, you need to own up to it and make it right.
While that may not stop a lawsuit being filed, it may mitigate the outcome if the plaintiff has received an apology and the doctor has attempted to make amends. In many instances, all a patient that has been harmed wants is an acknowledgment from the practitioner that they messed up. Saying they are sorry, explaining what went wrong, and attempting to clearly inform a patient goes a long way toward preventing a problem from careening out of control and landing in court with hard feelings on both sides of the courtroom.
Certainly the question of whether or not harm to a patient was caused by medical negligence is an issue and for that reason, should you feel you have a case, speak to a skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyer. Medical negligence or malpractice happens when a doctor (or other medical professional) commits an act of negligence that breaches his or her duty to a patient. Additionally, there must be a direct causal link between the mistake/breach and the harm caused and it must also cause financial harm to the victim.
While many doctors are outstanding physicians with a good track record, there are those that also have a questionable track record putting their patients at risk, injuring them or killing them as a result of a medical error. Dermatologists rarely get slapped with medical malpractice lawsuits, but that still does not lessen the standard of care.
In fact, recent statistics released by the Physician Insurers Association of America show that the practice of dermatology only had a 1 percent rating for closed malpractice claims and a 1 percent indemnity for all medical specialties in 2010. That being said, even though the lawsuit rate is lower, the settlement rate and jury awards tend to be higher. Jury awards for medical negligence in melanoma cases where dermatologists misdiagnosed or mistreated are often higher because they are more serious than other procedures they perform.
Typically, other procedures they carry out on patients are largely aesthetic, and as such, have little value in terms of malpractice claims. This is because when assessing a malpractice claim, the seriousness of the mistake is taken into account in combination with how the error affects a patient’s ability to work. If a procedure is largely cosmetic and went awry, awarding damages for lost work is sometimes difficult. This is not to say that it cannot be done, but juries do tend to view cases like this in a different light.
For those who have had a bad experience with a dermatologist, make a call to an Atlanta personal injury lawyer for advice to get various options on how to proceed if your case is solid.
Robert Webb is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in Atlanta personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law. Learn more at Webbdorazio.com.