You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox


With summer in full swing across the nation, it’s important for all Australian’s to be sun safe and check for melanoma.

If you notice any changes in spots on your skin, it’s important you see a doctor or skin specialist to have these reviewed. If you aren’t satisfied with their assessment, you should seek a second opinion.

Sadly, Slater and Gordon’s medical team have witnessed many cases in relation to the non-detection and failure to diagnose melanoma. The factual scenarios that have presented were broadly as follows:

  1. Suspicious lesions that were ignored by treating doctors.
  2. Inadequate excision of suspicious lesions and therefore failure to treat a primary low grade melanoma.
  3. Misdiagnosis of excised lesion by pathologist.

In all such cases, the melanoma was permitted to develop and consequently, malignant melanoma with poor prognosis followed with the clients in question.

In these cases, the law will examine the facts at hand and then determine whether the relevant health practitioner has acted to a standard of care as an ordinary skilled practitioner ought to in the circumstances. The second more onerous evidentiary step is to obtain expert evidence mainly from an oncologist or pathologist to state that if the melanoma was completely excised and/or diagnosed at an early stage at the time of the consultation with the medical practitioner in question, that the patient would have had a materially different outcome in terms of:

  1. The stage the melanoma would have been;
  2. That the prognosis or life expectancy would not be materially impacted upon; and
  3. The law must assess the consequential damage arising from the non-detection of the melanoma.

The first step in the investigation is reasonably straightforward and expert evidence will be obtained from a peer professional of the health professional in question. The second step can be extremely onerous but as there is a great deal of medical literature and research in this country as to the growth rates of melanoma. It is therefore possible to obtain expert evidence that at the time the lesion ought to have been diagnosed and excised with a consideration of its size at the time as to whether it would have infiltrated to cause metastatic melanoma.

The extent of damage to the client is then assessed by reference to the degree of metastatic disease and the consequential losses which a client will have available to them including:

  1. Pain and suffering;
  2. Past out of pocket expenses;
  3. Past and future care and domestic assistance;
  4. Economic loss and loss of superannuation;
  5. Future treatment expenses.

These cases are unfortunately more frequent than is acceptable. There is a common thread throughout these cases and the factual scenarios and experience in these claims is invaluable.

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Compensation Law
As a firefighter Mike spent 24 years helping people, now he wants to help other firefighters

At 75 years old, Mike McGee likes spending quiet time with his wife, enjoying the seaside views from their home, or in his woodworking workshop, wood-turning and carving his next project. These days Mike has found a nice serenity in his retirement, after 24 years in the ACT Fire & Rescue, it’s a well deserved peace. Mike joined the fire-brigade in 1976 and has pretty much done it all – from working with bushfire tankers out in the regions, to taking emergency calls – no two days in his 24-year career was the same. Mike enjoyed his work, as a shift worker it allowed him the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and kids – a rarity at the time. He also loved the comradery,...

Mike Mc Gee
Compensation Law
Injured on the road for work? Who should you make a compensation claim with?

In every state and territory, we have a number of different schemes and programs to help people who have been injured get back on their feet. If you’ve become injured or ill at work, you can make a claim for Worker’s Compensation. If you’ve suffered an injury on the roads there are a range of compensation benefits you can claim through Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance. Most of us will rely on a motor vehicle of some sort, either as a passenger or driver, to get to and from work each day, and sometimes even during work time. If you get hurt in a motor vehicle accident (including on public transport), whilst you’re working, your claim for compensation for time off work and...

Traffic jam
Compensation Law
Injured workers to receive early access to psychological treatment

Injured workers in Victoria seeking compensation for mental health injuries will be able to receive treatment as soon as possible from July this year. Right now, workers with a psychological condition often wait up to five weeks before receiving a decision on whether WorkSafe will accept their claim and pay for treatment or support. This is a lot longer than the average seven days it takes WorkSafe to make a decision on a physical injury claim. Currently, if the claim for a psychological injury is rejected, the injured worker is not entitled to any funded treatment for this injury under the WorkCover scheme, and will need to pay for treatment themselves. However, the Victorian Government...

Woman working on positive mental health

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.