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Do Malpractice Fears Affect Interpretations of Melanocytic Lesions?

A recent study looked at the impact of a provider’s personal experience with malpractice in relation to their interpretation of melanocytic skin lesions. The goal of this research was to determine if dermatopathologists believe that additional testing or consultations would protect them from future lawsuits.

The authors surveyed 207 dermatopathologists regarding their demographics, prior experience with malpractice, and perceptions about how concerns about malpractice may influence dermatopathology practice. The results showed that older dermatopathologists were more likely to have been sued compared with younger dermatopathologists. Fellowship training or board certification in dermatopathology was associated with a lower likelihood of litigation. Lower representation of melanocytic lesions in their caseload resulted in higher reported malpractice experience. Most dermatopathologists in our study reported enjoying interpreting melanocytic lesions and are confident in their interpretations, though most stated that interpreting these lesions makes them more nervous compared with other types of nonmelanocytic tissue. The study found no perceived interpretive behaviors to be associated with a history of being sued, though second opinions, additional slides cut from tissue blocks, additional surgical samples, and ancillary tests are frequently ordered because of concerns regarding malpractice.

Overall, the authors conclude that clinical practices do not appear to be affected by having a personal experience with a medical malpractice claim. For the physicians surveyed, patient safety is their main concern, but malpractice concerns may lead to more testing.

Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Adapted from the original article.


[image by Beth Cortez-Neaval]

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