DOI: 10.1097/dss.0000000000004142 ISSN: 1076-0512

Retrospective Analysis of US Litigations Involving Dermatologists From 2011 to 2022

Young H. Lim, Shahin A. Saberi, Kanika Kamal, H. Ray Jalian, Mathew Avram
  • Dermatology
  • General Medicine
  • Surgery


Physician malpractice lawsuits are climbing, and the reasons underlying litigation against dermatologists are unclear.


To determine the reasons patients pursue litigation against dermatologists or dermatology practices.


A retrospective analysis of all state and federal cases between 2011 and 2022 was performed after a query using “Dermatology” and “dermatologist” as search terms on 2 national legal data repositories.


The authors identified a total of 48 (37 state and 11 federal) lawsuits in which a practicing dermatologist or dermatology group practice was the defendant. The most common reason for litigation was unexpected harm (26 cases, 54.2%), followed by diagnostic error (e.g. incorrect or delayed diagnoses) (16 cases, 33.3%). Six cases resulted from the dermatologist failing to communicate important information, such as medication side effects or obtaining informed consent. Male dermatologists were sued at a rate 3.1 times higher than female dermatologists.


Although lawsuits from patients against dermatologists largely involve injury from elective procedures, clinicians should practice caution regarding missed diagnoses and ensure critical information is shared with patients to safeguard against easily avoidable litigation.

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