Our skin is both the largest and most overlooked organ on our entire body. Many skin conditions can have dire impacts on our health as they cause damage to other organs once they have acquired the ability to move throughout the body. The Chicago dermatologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand the importance of early diagnosis and treatment when it comes to ensuring the most favorable prognosis for patients. When doctors don’t respond to patient concerns in a logical fashion and fail to order the right tests or advocate for appropriate treatment measures, they can and should be held accountable if their patients suffer for it.
Dermatologists Contribute More to Medicine Than Most Realize
Many people are apathetic when it comes to dermatology and don’t realize just how important it can be to take care of and maintain the skin. It can also be viewed in a cosmetic vein due to the many procedures and treatments dermatologists provide patients who are seeking to address issues of appearance such as signs of aging and the presence of scars. What most of us fail to consider at times is that dermatologists also focus on more serious conditions that can impact our quality of living or become an immediate threat to our lives.
In addition to treating skin conditions, dermatologists can treat illnesses and disorders of the hair, nails and mucous membranes. There are over 3,000 medical conditions that are treated by these specialists that can range from minor allergic reactions and acne to the removal of cysts and treatment of cancer. Among these conditions are also bacterial and fungal infections, eczema and psoriasis.
Before being able to practice in the field, dermatologists must first complete a one-year internship followed by a three-year residency program. It is during this time that dermatologists acquire all of the hands-on experience and much of the field-specific knowledge that they need to perform their duties in an efficient and responsible manner once they complete their residency.
Our medical malpractice lawyers recognize just how important these specialists are and the many ways they can prolong and enrich our lives through what they do. We also know how the failure to diagnose a condition, recommend an inappropriate treatment or perform a procedure without error can result in life-altering injuries or premature death. We expect that dermatologists to be held accountable when their actions are negligent.
Diagnosis Errors Often Cited in Dermatology Malpractice Cases
While many of the conditions dermatologists treat can be addressed through the application of topical or oral medications, other conditions require more thorough diagnostic procedures to detect and advanced treatment measures to cure or eliminate. When considering a diagnosis or treatment options, the doctor needs to decide whether the underlying issue is something serious and worthy of additional testing. It is the failure to order these tests that can result in disaster when the patient is indeed suffering from something more serious.
Skin cancer represents the greatest threat to our lives if it is allowed to spread unabated because of detection failure. Studies have repeatedly shown that all cancer patients have a significantly greater chance of survival if the cancer is discovered early on. Those who suffer from various skin cancers are much more likely to die when the cancer is caught late than if it is diagnosed early.
Certain skin infections can also become a threat when they are either misdiagnosed or undetected. These infections can become extremely painful and spread to other areas of the body. Here, they pose the threat of causing damage to other organs. The two most serious consequences that can arise from failing to diagnose a skin infection are amputation or sepsis. Sepsis occurs when bacteria are able to make their way into the blood and invade vital organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain.
Dermatology Negligence Can Result from Wrong Treatment Decisions
Even treating minor skin conditions can have adverse effects if the medication or treatment method used is inappropriate. Allergic reactions, drug interactions, skin discoloration, the appearance of scars and other unsightly disfigurements can occur due to what many might view as the simple treatment of acne, eczema, psoriasis or a minor rash. Certain surgical procedures may also result in scarring or the appearance of stretch marks and other blemishes.
There are different ways to address the treatment of infections, tumors and skin cancer as well. Dermatologists need to be fastidious about their selection of treatment methods. For example, some forms of skin cancer may respond well to Mohs surgery. Yet, that procedure may provide very little benefit in other circumstances. This procedure attacks cancer in an aggregate manner by removing skin in thin layers until the surgeon is no longer able to detect the presence of any remaining cancer cells. It may not be appropriate for larger tumors or if there is a reason to suspect cancer has metastasized.
It is the duty of a dermatologist to consider all of the risks involved in any treatment option and whether the potential benefits outweigh them.
Injuries Due to Dermatologist Malpractice Vary in Severity
Since the field of dermatology encompasses such a wide range of medical concerns, negligent treatment can result in very minor discomfort for some and physical or emotional agony for others. Some of the most serious injuries our Chicago dermatologist malpractice lawyers have seen include the following.
- Advancement of cancer— if undiagnosed and untreated, skin cancer can spread throughout the body where it may metastasize and threaten internal organs. The cancer cells will first spread to deeper layers of the skin and could then move elsewhere once finding an avenue such as the lymph system or blood. Failing to detect skin cancer early is almost akin to delivering a death sentence due to the extremely low rate of survival among those with late-stage skin cancers.
- Scarring and disfigurement— while it is possible for some medications to result in unsightly blemishes and scars, most of the scarring caused by malpractice is due to surgical errors. The presence of scars can become a permanent reminder of a tumultuous experience or diminish a person’s confidence and self-esteem. Children and teenagers may be treated as an outcast due to the presence of these imperfections.
- Loss of limb— this is most likely due to the advancement of an untreated skin infection, but it can occur due to other errors in diagnosis or treatment. If the infection threatens the life of the patient and can no longer be treated through the course of an antibiotic, amputation could be the only way to save the patient’s life.
- Death of patient— it is always unfortunate to lose a loved one, but the loss becomes even more difficult to bear when considering that steps could have been taken to save his or her life. The loved ones left behind when someone dies due to medical malpractice are well within their rights to seek fair compensation for their loss.
Sample Dermatology Malpractice Lawsuit Verdicts & Settlements
$580,000 JURY AWARD; DERMATOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The plaintiff in this dermatology lawsuit was a middle-aged woman. She was about go get married and looking forward to the day. To get ready for that, she visited a dermatologist. In the first few visits, the doctors performed skin tightening procedures. In the final trip, the dermatologist and staff were going to remove sun spots. To do this, they applied gel on the affected area and then shined a very bright, hot light on the spot. This worked across her face, but the staff forget to apply gel on her arms and legs. That oversight gave her scars and second-degree burns across her body. Staff knew they messed up because they altered the woman’s consent form and misplaced photos of the damage. The woman was very affected by the malpractice. It came right before her wedding. The damage could not be undone. She sued the facility and the doctors for malpractice. She claimed their negligence her damages including costs, disfigurement, pain, and suffering. An Illinois jury reviewed the matter for a few hours. They returned a verdict for her. She received $580,000: $300,000 for disfigurement and $280,000 for suffering and pain.
$3,249,822 JURY AWARD; DERMATOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
In this case, the patient went to see a dermatologist to have lesions removed. In consultation with other doctors, the dermatologist determined the woman had squamous cell carcinoma. She was put on a course of treatment for that diagnosis. However, weeks later, she complained of back pain and migraines. She went to the emergency room. Doctors at that facility learned she had blastomycosis (an infectious disease) and criticized the squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis. To address the issue, they performed spinal fusion surgery at the T4-L1 juncture. Yet, a lot of damage was done and could not be fixed. The woman sued the dermatologist for error in diagnosis and decline in health due to that oversight. She claimed pain, suffering, and over $500,000 in medical bills as well as over $700,00 in lost income. The jury returned a verdict in her favor for more than $3 million: $500,000 for lost normal life; $1.3 million for suffering and pain; $200,000 for disfigurement; $729,872 for lost income; and $519,950 for medical bills.
$135,257 JURY AWARD; DERMATOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The patient in this case sought a dermatologist for treatment related to psoriasis. The doctor settled on a course of care using ultraviolet light. In that procedure, the woman suffered second-degree burns across almost a quarter of her body. The injuries required her to spend a couple of days in the hospital at great cost. She sued the dermatologist for malpractice. She claimed that he did not get her informed consent, he did not oversee his staff properly, and he used personnel with no relevant training. The defendant shot back with some strong objections. He claimed that she admitted to not complying with his instructions during the procedure by refusing to turn over as required. Also, he stated that she moved closer to the light in order to get a tan. He offered that her burns were her fault. Unable to find an agreement, both sides went to court. The jury essentially compromised. They found for the woman but did not award a high figure. Of the $135,257 total award, $120,500 was for the woman’s suffering and pain and $14,757 was for her medical bills.
$950,000 SETTLEMENT; DERMATOLOGY MALPRACTICE; COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
This case started off innocently enough. The dermatologist removed a mole from a woman’s shoulder. She was in her late 60s at the time of the operation. After removing the mole, he diagnosed it as benign. In fact, it was melanoma. This error in diagnosis was not discovered for over eight months. With proper and timely diagnosis, almost all patients recover from this condition. She did not have a proper and timely diagnosis though and the consequences were stark. Her cancer metastasized into her lungs and became terminal. She sued the dermatologist for this wrong diagnosis and missed chances at survival. The two parties settled for a reported $950,000.
Experience Matters When Selecting a Chicago Dermatologist Malpractice Lawyer
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a medical mistake or doctor’s reckless judgment, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the cost of any associated treatment costs, pain, and suffering, lost wages, future cost of care, loss of opportunity or loss of consortium. These cases can be difficult to win, which is why it is so important that you work with a legal team that knows how to give you the best chance of doing so.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented thousands of clients whose lives were forever impacted by the negligent decisions of medical experts. We understand that the most important decision you will make when pursuing the compensation you deserve will be who you choose to represent your interests and this is why our malpractice law team is made up of attorneys that have had past successes working with people just like you and who have chosen to specialize in medical malpractice law.
Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our award-winning Chicago dermatologist medical malpractice attorneys so that we can gather all of the information we need to investigate your case. From there, we can review all available legal avenues and how we can best serve your needs so that you know exactly what you can expect. At no point will we require upfront fees for our services and if we are unable to secure damages on your behalf, our services will be free of charge.