Failure to Biopsy Lymph Nodes despite Large Melanoma, $2M Settlement

June 1, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


Three providers in Massachusetts agreed to a $2 million settlement to resolve allegations that a biopsy of the patient’s lymph nodes should have been performed when clinicians learned that the patient had a sizeable melanoma, according to a report from the April 2012 Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements, and Experts. The patient visited the defendant dermatologist in November 2006 to have a mole on his right arm examined. He underwent a shave biopsy, which revealed superficial spreading melanoma. The defendant dermatopathologist noted that the surgical margins were free of tumor. The melanoma was found to be Clark level III with a depth of 1.1 mm, but the patient was not referred to an oncologist to discuss his treatment. The patient visited the dermatologist three weeks later and was advised to see a surgeon for further excision to ensure clean margins. The patient followed the instructions, and the defendant surgeon performed a wider excision on the right arm that took at least one centimeter surrounding the lesion and healed site.

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