Skin cancer surgery

GPs risk legal action if they fail to follow GMC guidance – as well as NICE guidelines – when they treat skin cancers. 

  • Date: 19 November 2008

GPs risk legal action if they fail to comply with GMC guidance – as well as NICE guidelines – when they treat skin cancers.

This warning comes after concerns publicised earlier this year by the British Association of Dermatologists that family doctors are not following NICE guidance in performing such surgery.

Litigation may follow where an excision is incomplete, histology on the sample is not performed or the required standard of care is not provided. Complying with guidance should enable MDDUS effectively to support doctors who are asked to account for their actions in performing surgical procedures locally.

GMC guidance in Good Medical Practice advises doctors to “recognise and work within the limits of [their] competence”. The GMC also advises: “You should be familiar with relevant guidelines and developments that affect your work”.

MDDUS medico-legal adviser Dr George Fernie said: "GPs should ensure that they are working within their sphere of expertise, have robust systems and comply with all relevant guidance, whether it is from the GMC, NICE or elsewhere".

Please contact an MDDUS adviser if you require further advice or guidance.

ACTION: GPs must follow relevant guidelines when performing minor surgery for skin lesions.


This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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