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November 1997

Quality of Care in the Diagnosis of Melanoma and Related Melanocytic Lesions

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Piepkorn and Odland) and Pathology (Dr Piepkorn), University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(11):1393-1396. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890470067011

Few issues in dermatologic practice evoke as much debate and controversy as do the diagnosis and management of melanocytic lesions. Not least among the reasons for this is the potential for untoward outcomes. On one hand, this may well constitute death from the disease for the patient. The magnitude of such tragedies is often compounded by the tendency of melanoma to afflict persons during the prime of their lives. On the other hand, it requires little further elaboration that dermatologic practitioners may be exposed to significant liability when they are treating patients with this disease.1 Regrettably, the degree of debate and the magnitude of the attendant rhetoric seem inversely proportional to the substance and quality of the database, reflecting an all-too-common theme in medical practice. Now that quality of care has suddenly become a watchword and a major focus of concern in health care delivery systems, replacing such moribund issues as access to care, we as providers are coming under increasing pressures to demonstrate that our rendered services meet certain nebulous performance standards and other measures of quality that are under development.2-8