Maryland Family Awarded $5.8 Million for Dermatology Malpractice Leading to Man’s Skin Cancer Death

In Maryland, a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury has ordered the practice of Silver Springs Dermatologist Dr. Norman Ansel Lokshin to pay the surviving family members of Richard Semsker $5.8 million for dermatology malpractice.

Semsker died of skin cancer in October 2007. The Rockville resident had sought treatment from Dr. Lockshin’s practice. According to his family’s Maryland wrongful death lawsuit, Dr. Lokshin first detected a mole on Semsker’s lower back during a 1998 checkup. Lokshin contacted Semsker’s primary care physician, Dr. Lawrence Marcus, and recommended that the mole be removed. The mole was not removed.

In 2004, Semsker went back to Dr. Lokshin’s practice and was seen by Dr. Michael Albert, who was working at the practice part-time. Dr. Albert recommended that an atypical mole and two cysts be removed from Semsker’s upper back. However, he recommended that the same mole that Lokshin first detected on Albert’s back six years ago only be monitored because he believed that it wasn’t cancerous. Albert had just started working at the dermatology practice and he didn’t know that the mole had grown twice in size.

Semsker’s mole was not removed until August 2006, after his wife noted that it was now a different color. He soon found out that he had cancer and that the disease was now in lymph nodes in his lower abdomen and groin. It would later reach his brain. After undergoing surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the 47-year-old died of cancer in October 2007.

The Semsker family accused Albert of medical negligence for failing to recommend the mole’s removal. During the wrongful death trial, an expert witness for the family testified that Semsker’s recovery chances would have been 95% if the mole had been removed in 2004 instead of 2006.

While the Maryland jury did not find Lokshin personally liable for the delayed diagnosis, his dermatology practice is being held responsible for the medical malpractice award. The Semsker’s family was awarded $3 million in non-economic damages and $2.8 million for loss of financial support. The non-economic damages will be lowered to $812,5000, per the state’s medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages involving at least two plaintiffs.

Doctor liable for lawyer’s fatal cancer, The Daily Record, November 17, 2008
Family wins malpractice suit against Silver Spring dermatologist,, November 19, 2008

Related Web Resource:

Derm Malpractice Payout Doubled From 2005 to 2007: Average settlement rose by 53% to $290,627, Skin and Allergy News, October 2008

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