Failure to Diagnose Malignant Melanoma

Two trends we see in medicine, especially in Southern California, are putting an entire population of patients at serious risk: the alarming increase in the incidence of malignant melanoma in the general population during the past twenty-five years and the reliance by most managed care organizations on primary care providers to determine under what circumstances a patient should be referred to a specialist. In no other area of medicine is the restriction of access potentially as deadly as it is in cases involving malignant melanoma.

Failure by primary health care providers, who do not have the extensive training that a dermatologist has, to diagnose and order a biopsy of a suspicious mole can be a potentially fatal medical mistake. Many or most family doctors are not aware of the incidence of malignant melanoma in the population, which has been rising over the past thirty years and is currently estimated to affect 1 in about 85 people in the United States. Alarmingly, while death from most other cancers has stabilized or declined, the mortality rate associated with malignant melanoma continues to rise.

Although fair-skinned individuals and those with many large moles have generally been thought to be at higher risk for developing the disease, an increase in melanoma among Hispanics, especially Hispanic men, has recently been documented. No one should be complacent about irregular-looking skin moles.

I would encourage anyone who has a suspicious-looking mole to immediately consult a dermatologist for evaluation. The National Cancer Institute explains what traits in a mole should cause some concern on the part of a patient.

If you get your health care through an HMO which requires referral to a specialist, insist that such a referral be made promptly. Most of the cases I have handled over the years in which a failure to diagnose melanoma has occurred involved general practitioners, internists or physicians’ assistants.

Melanoma is easily and successfully treated if detected early. Although there are new treatment protocols being developed for treatment of advanced melanoma, a delay in diagnosis is potentially deadly.

Related Posts
  • Melanoma: A Medical-Legal Perspective Read More
  • Why We May Not Be Able to Handle Your Medical Malpractice Case Read More
  • Birth Injury Cases Provide Needed Support for Injured Babies Read More
Rice & bloomfield Our Approach
  • We're Ready for Anything
    To us, there’s no such thing as over-preparing. Even if your case is straightforward, we’ll have Plans B and C ready to go in case the matter escalates or goes to trial.
  • We Cut to the Chase
    If you choose to work with us, you’ll see that we don’t make false promises. We set clear, realistic expectations from the get-go so you can make informed decisions.
  • We Work As a Team
    We handle the vast majority of our cases individually to save our clients money, but we brainstorm together to ensure we’ve examined the possibilities from every angle.
Get A Free & Confidential COnsultation Contact Us

Whether you have questions or you’re ready to get started, our dedicated team is ready to help. Complete our form below or call us at (818) 600-7966.

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.