Our client, a 40 year old woman with two children, presented to her family physician with complaints of an atypical skin lesion on her back. Her family physician did a biopsy of this “mole” and sent the sample to a pathology laboratory. At the pathology lab the lesion was examined by a pathologist and was misdiagnosed as a compound nevus, which is a benign melanocytic mole. Research shows that lesions like these should be monitored and checked frequently for any changes because these they can progress into skin cancer. Months later the atypical lesion was checked again, and this time there were noteworthy changes in the size, contour, and color of the mole. Due to these changes, a second biopsy of the mole was ordered and performed. From the results of the biopsy, it was determined that our client had a Clark’s level IV superficial spreading melanoma, stage III. Our client was then referred to MD Anderson where she underwent numerous surgical interventions and treatments. During her treatment process, it was determined that the first biopsy that was taken had been read incorrectly by the pathologist and was erroneously interpreted as a compound nevus. The initial pathologist should have diagnosed an atypical compound melanocytic proliferation suggestive of invasive melanoma. In the medical review panel process, the panel ruled against the pathologist who performed the initial analysis and found that he should have identified that original specimen as melanoma, not a compound nevus. Our client had to undergo vast amounts of treatments and had to endure pain and suffering due to the treatments she received. Moreover, she now must also live with the realistic fear that she will die from the cancer because of its progression that was allowed by the delay in diagnosis. Through a settlement, Todd Townsley was able to make a just and favorable recovery for this client.
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