Health-care safety management has recently been highlighted for patient safety. However, specialist-based risks in clinical settings have hardly been discussed in Japan so far. A review of dermatological legal claims may delineate these risks. This study examined court precedents from the databases "Courts in Japan" and LEX/DB. Thirty-four dermatology-related civil cases were found from 1968-2006. Of the 34 cases, 32 (94%) were judged and two (6%) were retried. Of these 32 cases, 11 (34%) were appealed to higher courts. Among the 34 litigations, the defendants of eight (23%) were dermatology specialists, 20 (59%) were non-dermatologists and six (18%) of unknown specialty. The defendants' negligence was determined at either level in court in 25 of the 34 cases. The negligence in these 25 cases was categorized into five groups: (i) delayed diagnosis (none); (ii) complication during diagnosis procedure (one, 4%); (iii) inappropriate treatment (nine, 36%); (iv) complication during treatment procedure (10, 40%); and (v) insufficient informed consent (five, 20%). The present study may help to improve strategies for health-care safety management in the dermatological field in Japan.
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