Maryland Man Wins Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis Case, But Med Mal Caps Appl

A medical malpractice court case that challenged the new caps on Maryland medical malpractice awards ended with the Maryland Court of Appeals preserving the state’s earlier decision to limit the amount of damages a medical malpractice victim can collect.

The medical malpractice case being considered by the court was of Lockshin v. Semsker, in which a Rockville, Maryland, man was misdiagnosed by a dermatologist. Richard Semsker died of skin cancer after Dr. Norman Lockshin did not remove a cancerous mole from his back over the course of four visits for skin issues. The mole was not removed until two years later, by which time the cancer had spread. The 47-year-old man died in 2007 leaving behind a wife and young family. A medical expert at the trial emphasized that early detection and removal of the cancerous moles like Semsker’s malignant melanoma often saves a patient’s life.

Semsker’s family was awarded $5.8 million in the wrongful death trial – the jury found that Lockshin did not remove the mole even after Semsker’s primary care doctor recommended the procedure. However, the Maryland cap of $812,500 for pain and suffering shrunk the Semker family’s compensation dramatically.

Maryland instated medical malpractice caps in 2004 – insurance premiums for doctors were becoming too high and physicians were leaving the state and creating a doctor shortage. While some believe that doctors should not have to pay such exorbitant prices for insurance in case of mistake, others believe that medical malpractice victims should receive their full awards as granted by Maryland jurors.

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