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Medical Verdicts


Acne treatment causes complications in gravida

November 2002 · Vol. 14, No. 11

<court>California Superior Court</court>

A woman presented to an Ob/Gyn with pregnancy-induced mild acne. To treat the condition, the physician prescribed diflorasone diacetate 0.05% cream, which the patient was instructed to apply to her face 2 times a day. Shortly after, the woman developed cystic acne and steroid-induced rosacea, resulting in permanent redness on her nose and cheeks. During her next office visit, the patient was seen by a nurse practitioner, not the prescribing doctor. Despite describing her condition to the nurse practitioner, the woman was not told to discontinue treatment. Her face continued to break out for the duration of her pregnancy and after childbirth. Approximately 2 months after the initial prescription was issued, she admitted herself to a hospital for extreme facial pain. There she learned that the medication she had been applying was inappropriate for facial dermatitis.


In suing, the woman claimed that the physician was negligent in prescribing a potent corticosteroid primarily designed for dermatological use on heels and palms. She further alleged that the pharmacy should have alerted her to the possible risks, complications, and side effects of using the medicine on her face.

The physician contended that the patient had suffered from chronic facial acne for more than 10 years, and observed that she often prescribes diflorasone diacetate to patients who suffer from perioral dermatitis. She further alleged that the pharmacy was liable for not explaining potential adverse effects, and the woman’s condition was exacerbated because she failed to halt treatment once it became clear her condition was worsening.

  • An arbitration panel awarded the woman $137,000 against the physicians; the case against the pharmacy settled for an unknown sum.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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