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A dermatologist is a doctor who is trained to evaluate and treat both children and adults with disorders that may be either benign or malignant. These disorders may affect the skin, hair, nails, and mucus membranes.
To properly diagnose infections or other skin conditions, dermatologists may perform physical examinations on their patients. Depending on what the dermatologist finds during the examination, he or she may decide to prescribe antibiotics or other types of medicine to help reduce the presence of the condition.
In addition to performing examinations and prescribing medication, it is not uncommon for a dermatologist to perform minor surgical procedures.
There are about 9,600 practicing dermatologists in the US.
Dermatology is considered to be a specialized field of medicine. This means that in order to be a dermatologist, one must have an M.D., at least, three years residency, and at least, one or two years of training by way of a fellowship. They must also pass an examination given by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD). Residency involves one year of training in either general surgery or internal medicine and three years of clinical training in the field of dermatology.
A fellowship program allows a doctor to study in subspecialties like lasers, phototherapy, cosmetic surgery, and immunohematology. The general goal of a fellowship is to develop future leaders in dermatology who will attain positions such as residency program directors, professors in clinician-educator tracks, and departmental chairmen.
To become a board-certified, dermatologist, a candidate must successfully complete an exam given by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD).
Where Dermatologists Work
The majority of dermatologists work in individual or group practice clinics. Most, if not all of the surgical procedures performed by a dermatologist can be completed on an outpatient basis in a dermatology office as opposed to in a hospital.
Dermatologists usually work a set schedule at the office and rarely work odd hours. It is also possible that a dermatologist may provide training for general medical practitioners, teach at a university or run clinical trials in a research lab.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), report that in 2010, there were an estimated 39 million visits to office-based dermatologists in the United States.
The average salary of a dermatologist in the United States is considered to be $204,000 per year with a wide range between the low of $88,437 to a high of $308,057.
How They Help People
Dermatologists help patients with numerous problems such as:
- Hair and nail disorders
- Occupational dermatitis
- Skin infections
- Hand dermatitis
Dermatologists also help in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, nails, sweat and oil glands, and mucus membranes which can include cancer.
Examples of the types of minor surgery a dermatologist may perform include:
- Biopsy – help to diagnose or rule out certain dangerous skin conditions. There are three main types of skin biopsies that are commonly performed: shave biopsies which remove small sections of the top layer of skin, punch biopsies which remove small circular sections including deeper layers, and excision biopsies which remove entire areas of abnormal-looking skin.
- Chemical peel – used to treat sun-damaged skin and some types of acne, as well as more cosmetic complaints, such as age spots and lines under the eyes. A dermatologist will apply a chemical solution to the skin. The solution then causes a layer of skin to separate and peel off over the course of up to two weeks, leaving a layer of regenerated skin underneath that is typically smoother than the previous layer of skin.
- Cosmetic injection – used to treat wrinkles, scarring and lost facial fullness can be temporarily treated with injections administered by dermatologists during office visits. Results of this treatment tend to last for a few months.
- Cryotherapy – used to treat many benign skin conditions such as warts. Liquid nitrogen is used in order to destroy affected skin cells.
- Laser surgery – dermatologists use special light beams to remove a variety of skin complaints like tumors, warts, moles, tattoos, birthmarks, scars, wrinkles and unwanted hair.
- Vein therapy – used to treat unsightly veins. Dermatologists insert a solution into the vein which irritates the lining and causes it to shut. The vein then becomes less distinct or disappears.
Dermatologists and Medical Malpractice
When looking at a potential medical malpractice claim, certain criteria must be met:
- a physician-patient relationship must have existed
- the care provider must owe the patient a duty of care
- there was a failure in some part of the duty of care
- the lack of care was the proximate cause of harm, and
- a harm occurred
Medical malpractice claims may be brought against dermatologists for a variety of reasons including the failure to properly detect cancerous skin conditions, incorrectly diagnosing a skin condition, and improperly prescribing medication.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered a negligent injury from a dermatologist, call the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162. You have the right to expect medical professionals to operate within the required standard of care. If you suspect that your dermatologist acted negligently, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney.