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    Did negligence cause patient’s death?

    David J. Goldberg, M.D., J.D.DS is a 48-year-old man with a multiple squamous cell carcinoma and a history of immunosuppression. He is seen every six months for skin evaluation. His cancerous lesions have been treated with a variety of methods including electrical destruction, topical agents and Mohs surgery. Some lesions have recurred; others have not. The patient develops metastatic disease from a recurrent lesion and dies, leaving behind multiple family members. The plaintiff’s estate sues the treating dermatologist contending that there must have been negligence and a breach of duty for the skin cancer to return. Perhaps more frequent dermatologic visits and/or more aggressive treatments would have prevented the patient’s unfortunate death. Was the dermatologist negligent?

    READ: When can I accept a patient's gift?

    Standard of care

    Any analysis of physician negligence must first begin with a legal description of the elements of negligence. There are four required elements for a cause of action in negligence. They are

    • duty

    • breach of duty

    • causation

    • damages

    The suing plaintiff’s estate must show the presence of all four elements to be successful in the claim.

    NEXT: Duty of a dermatologist

     

    GoldbergDavid.jpg
    David J. Goldberg, M.D., J.D.
    Dr. Goldberg is Director of Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey, Director of Mohs Surgery and laser research, ...

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