Medical Malpractice: Failure To Diagnose Melanoma- $650,000.00

Injuries Alleged: Delay in treatment.

Amount of Settlement: $650,000.00

Case Summary:
Plaintiff, a 63 year old Asian woman, sought care for a lesion on her right great toe. The doctor who performed the biopsy noted her concern in patient's chart that the lesion represented a "superficial spreading melanoma."  The biopsy specimen was read by defendant pathologist, who rendered a diagnosis of "Blue Nevus."  Plaintiff then returned to the clinic the following week and saw the physician who had performed the biopsy who noted in her records on that date that the lesion had looked "very suspicious for melanoma" and that she had spoken with the pathologist, who claimed that they double read the specimen and told her that "blue nevi can mimic melanomas in their appearance."  The doctor's note further reflects that the pathologist had indicated that "they (blue nevi) are deep moles and they do not require excision."  No follow-up was scheduled.  Twelve months later, plaintiff returned to the clinic with complaints of pain in her right toe.  She was referred to a podiatrist, who re-biopsied the lesion, which was then diagnosed as "acral lentiginous melanoma."  The following month, plaintiff's left great toe was amputated.

Plaintiff's pathology slide from the first biopsy was obtained by the pathology department at the hospital at which the amputation was performed and re-read by two pathologists there who concluded that the lesion was, indeed, not a blue nevus but a severe atypical epidermal and dermal proliferation extending to the peripheral specimen margins.  Plaintiff's surgeon noted in his records that the "outside pathology" had been "extensively" reviewed by them and that "in retrospect, we would have recommended a definitive wide-excision (at the time of the initial biopsy), given her initial pathology."  The plaintiff, because of co-morbidities, declined any adjuvant therapy after the toe amputation.  As of the date of the settlement, plaintiff's melanoma had not recurred.

Plaintiff's counsel retained a nationally renowned dermatopathologist, who also reviewed the original slide and concluded that the lesion was "essentially diagnostic of malignant melanoma and should at the very least have been identified as severely atypical with a recommendation for complete excision."  The case settled shortly before the scheduled pre-trial conference.