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Male Dermatologists Are Sued 2.5 Times More Often Than Females

A new study has found that male dermatologists are the subject of malpractice lawsuits far more often than females because women are better at communicating.

In the study published in JAMA Dermatology, the group of researchers led by April W. Armstrong, MD, associate dean for clinical research at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, examined 90,743 closed lawsuits from 1991 to 2015. They found that 1,094 of the claims were brought against dermatologists and 89,599 dealt with physicians in other specialties. Although 67.8 percent of cases against dermatologists were abandoned, withdrawn, or dismissed, within the specialty, 69.5 percent of lawsuits were served to male physicians. Female physicians represented 24.9 percent of dermatologist malpractice claims.

According to Dermatology Times, “Female physicians are more inclined to actively engage in patient-centered communication.” The study authors recommend all physicians “practice and improve patient-centered communication, which may help enhance patient satisfaction and outcomes.”

Errors during operative or diagnostic skin procedures and misdiagnosis are the two most common reasons for lawsuits against dermatologists. Despite the low rate of claims against dermatologists, “there has been only a 2.5 percent reduction of closed claims over the past 20 years, compared to a 17.9 percent reduction for all specialties.”

Better biopsy training and techniques and taking before-and-after biopsy procedure photos could improve diagnosis accuracy and improve patient satisfaction. 

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