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Failure to Diagnose Melanoma

Syracuse Lawyers Helping Medical Malpractice Victims

Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. It is usually treatable when caught early. Unfortunately, the prognosis may not be good when melanoma is diagnosed at a late stage. If you suspect a doctor’s failure to diagnose melanoma harmed you or was the cause of a loved one’s death, you should talk to the experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. If a medical malpractice lawsuit is viable, you may be able to recover damages.

Failure to Diagnose Melanoma

Malignant melanoma is a highly dangerous and aggressive form of cancer, for which early diagnosis is essential. When a physician fails to remove and test a suspicious mole or lesion, the melanoma can grow to a more serious size or metastasize to another part of the body.

Many melanoma cases are diagnosed because a patient or doctor notices an abnormal mole or lesion during an exam. If a doctor does not follow-up with a biopsy order or fails to accurately interpret lab results, you might not receive the treatment you need as soon as you need it. Cancer can spread through the lymph system to other bodily tissues.

Medical Malpractice Liability

Not every mistake made by a general practitioner or oncologist counts as medical malpractice. Rather, medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider departs from the professional standard of care causing injuries to a patient. In most cases, the plaintiff must to retain an expert to establish the professional standard of care and analyze whether it was breached and caused harm to the patient.

The professional standard of care will be determined by looking at what other health care providers in the same specialty and in or around Syracuse would have done. For example, if an oncologist failed to diagnose melanoma due to misinterpreting a test result, and a reasonably competent oncologist in Syracuse would have interpreted the test result accurately and diagnosed melanoma, you may be able to establish medical malpractice. For another example, if a general practitioner failed to refer you to an oncologist after seeing a suspicious mole and it metastasized due to lack of treatment, this may have been a breach of the professional standard of care.

Certificate of Merit

Plaintiffs need to file a certificate of merit with any medical malpractice complaint. Under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules section 3012-a, the certificate of merit needs to state that the lawyer reviewed the facts and consulted with at least one doctor who the lawyer reasonably believes is knowledgeable in the relevant issues in your case, and as a result of that consultation has concluded a reasonable basis exists to file suit. Often, it’s necessary to consult a board-certified oncologist to determine whether the failure to diagnose melanoma was preventable and whether the harm sustained was the result of the failure to diagnose or not. You can only recover damages if the harm you suffered was caused by the failure to diagnose the melanoma, and not simply an outcome of the disease process that would have occurred no matter when the melanoma was diagnosed.


Both economic and noneconomic damages may be recovered in a medical malpractice case stemming from failure to diagnose melanoma. The nature and amount of the damages depends on the extent of the harm suffered.

It may be possible to recover wrongful death damages, if a patient dies due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose melanoma. In New York, wrongful death damages are pecuniary.  They can include medical expenses, funeral costs, burial costs, lost wages that the victim was earning and could have earned in the future, loss of parental guidance, and loss of services such as childcare. Survivors can’t recover damages for the sadness and emotional trauma experienced as a result of losing a loved one due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose melanoma. However, it is possible to recover damages for the loved one’s conscious pain and suffering and fear of impending death prior to dying of melanoma.

Consult a Syracuse Attorney

If you were harmed by a failure to diagnose melanoma in Syracuse, you should discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer as soon as you can. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, we represent patients and their families in Rochester, Syracuse, and other cities in Upstate New York, including in Cooperstown, Auburn, Oneida, Canandaigua, Binghamton, Lyons, Oswego, Watertown, Wampsville, Elmira, Herkimer, Ithaca, Lowville, and Utica. Please contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 833-200-2000 or by completing our online form.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
"I highly recommend DeFrancisco & Falgiatano - Charlie represented me for a medical malpractice case. He is the best of the best. He is friendly and I am very happy with the representation he provided." Roger N., Oneida, NY