Settlement of claim against dermatologist following facial laser treatment

Case studies

Settlement of claim against dermatologist following facial laser treatment

Our client consulted a private dermatologist at Amersham Clinic for advice regarding pigmentation she had developed on her forehead and cheeks. She was told that she had melasma and treatment with the Ruby laser was recommended.

The first session took place a few days later and our client experienced a marked reaction, causing an aggravation of her melasma. Her skin blackened after the treatment and then peeled off. 

Despite this, the private dermatologist recommended two further sessions of treatment, which worsened things further. Our client sought advice and treatment from another dermatologist and was told that the Ruby laser was the wrong choice for her condition. 

We were asked to investigate whether the treatment provided by the first dermatologist was appropriate. Following a detailed review of the medical records, it was apparent that we needed to involve an expert witness and we instructed an independent dermatologist who was supportive of a claim. 

There was particular criticism of the private dermatologist’s advice to treat the melasma with the Ruby laser. It was well recognised that melasma responds unsatisfactorily to laser therapy which can frequently aggravate the condition. There were a number of other criticisms, including a failure to advise our client of all her options, a failure to discuss the risks of the treatment and a failure to perform a patch test. 

We presented the claim to the private dermatologist but a response was not forthcoming so we issued court proceedings. We thought it would be sensible to make an offer to settle before taking things further. It was at this point that we heard from the insurers for the private dermatologist and they instructed solicitors. 

It was clear that the case was going to be defended and so we proceeded through the court timetable. We received a fairly robust defence, which we discussed with our expert and barrister in conference. Our expert remained supportive of the claim.  

We identified a number of inconsistencies between the defence and the witness evidence of the private dermatologist. For tactical reasons, we made another, slightly lower, offer to settle and highlighted the discrepancies in the case. Following a period of negotiation, the claim settled for a figure just short of our opening offer.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP