The NSWCA’s central inquiry in the appeal was about the appearance of the lesion when the deceased first attended his GP.

Due to the inadequacy of the notes taken by the four doctors who had treated the deceased, evidence about the appearance of the lesion was dependent on the recollections of the doctors and the deceased’s wife.

The NSWCA ultimately accepted the evidence of the treating doctors that the appearance of the lesion was not consistent with a diagnosis of melanoma, despite this evidence being contradicted by the deceased’s wife.

The expert evidence provided that the GP had not failed to act in accordance with competent professional practice in failing to consider a melanoma as a differential diagnosis in circumstances where the lesion presented as a plantar wart and there were no atypical features in the lesion.

Whilst the GP was not found to have been negligent, the decision is a timely reminder about the importance of detailed note-making when making a diagnosis.

The appellant was also unsuccessful in establishing causation, with the experts agreeing that it was not possible to say whether the lesion was a melanoma that had not yet metastasised when the deceased first presented to his GP.

The decision in Coote v Kelly; Northam v Kelly [2017] NSWCA 192 can be read here.

For an account of the Supreme Court’s decision at first instance, click here.