“Can I sue my plastic surgeon?” is a question often asked by patients who have undergone a failed cosmetic surgery procedure. Short answer, yes. After all, they have a professional and ethical duty to ensure you receive safe, high-quality treatment with satisfying results.
However, filing a lawsuit against a negligent surgeon may not be easy. This is when you’ll need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help build your case and represent you.
An experienced cosmetic surgery malpractice attorney can help you determine the best course of action and guide you through the legal process.
They are experts in medical malpractice laws and can help review your case, gather evidence, track down experts to testify on your behalf, and establish whether or not there is sufficient evidence of medical malpractice.
Knowing what to do when a plastic or cosmetic surgery procedure goes wrong protects you from further harm and allows you to get the justice you deserve. Here at The Pagan Law Firm, we have represented numerous clients for their cosmetic surgery malpractice claims and have a proven track record of success. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Reasons Plastic Surgery Can Go Wrong
Cosmetic surgery malpractice happens for many reasons, but it all boils down to a single cause: negligence. Lack of proper preparation, an inefficient surgical plan, or improper post-operative care can all lead to a failed surgery.
Here, we’ll look at some of the most common reasons how and why plastic surgery goes wrong:
Inadequate Assessment of the Patient
Most cosmetic surgery procedures are relatively safe for a generally healthy adult. However, a lack of proper assessment and patient consideration can put the patient at risk of complications.
Pre-operative assessment allows the plastic surgeon and the medical team to understand the procedure’s risks to a specific patient and plan accordingly. This includes assessing the patient’s physical health, psychological approach to surgery, and cosmetic goals.
Negligence in assessing the patient’s medical history, allergies, and overall health can lead to a botched cosmetic surgery procedure or even a lasting deformation.
Suppose the preferred operation is not viable for a particular patient because of the extreme risk it carries. In that case, the surgeon should inform them of the dangers and suggest alternative methods.
Equipment sterilization is a standard procedure in every medical institution. Despite being routine, some institutions or clinics neglect to follow CDC’s medical equipment sterilization guidelines.
In a 2018 news report, the California state government sanctioned the UC San Diego hospital for its improper sterilization techniques after a routine compliance check. The state deemed it necessary to impose an “immediate jeopardy” status on the hospital, suggesting the severity of this issue.
Improperly sanitized tools also increase the risk of person-to-person transmission of the Hepatitis B virus, HIV, and other contagious diseases. This also improves the chance of obtaining environmental pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Plastic surgery is a complicated process, and it can have severe consequences at the hands of an inexperienced surgeon. The lack of experience can lead to complications during the cosmetic procedure and unsatisfactory results post-surgery.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) is a nationally recognized certifying board that promotes patient safety by ensuring the highest standards of practice among its certified members.
If you find a plastic surgeon you want to work with, be sure to carefully examine their portfolio and check out client reviews to ensure they can deliver the results they guarantee.
Miscommunication Among Teams
According to a published study in PubMed, 30% of vital procedure-specific information gets lost during communication among medical team members. Many factors can be blamed for this, like inadequate training, casual interruption, or a lack of teamwork.
The success of a plastic surgery team relies heavily on their ability to communicate effectively. Lack of coordination can lead to delays in the operation and cause permanent damage in more severe cases.
Like any other industry, plastic surgery also has its share of paperwork errors. A clerical error could be anything from incorrect data entry to misplaced files or even a misfiled document.
A well-maintained database and an efficient data-entry system help the plastic surgery team track patient health records and monitor their progress before and after the operation. It also makes it easier to refer back to the patient’s medical history in case of any complications.
Lack of Post-Operative Care
Post-operative care is a critical step in plastic surgery and general surgery procedures. It primarily focuses on helping patients adapt to their new look, preventing potential surgical complications, and managing post-surgery pain.
Depending on the extent of the plastic or cosmetic surgery and the location of the wound, the patient may need to be monitored for several days or even months following the operation.
Attending follow-ups for touch-up operations, providing bandage changes and wound care, and administering post-operative antibiotics are part of the required post-operative treatment.
If your doctor fails to provide you with this essential post-operative care and you develop any complications because of their negligent actions, you can take legal action against them.
If any of the above scenarios has happened to you or a loved one, get in touch with The Pagan Law Firm today to discuss the details of your case. We will provide you with realistic expectations and legal advice to guide you through the lawsuit. We will even represent you in court if your case goes to trial.
Common Complications With Plastic Surgery
Since plastic surgery is an invasive procedure, the risk of complications is always there. The complications can range from manageable to life-threatening depending on the nature of the procedure and the involved body part.
However, most complications are preventable with proper preparation and professional medical care. Negligent surgeons can be held accountable for exposing their patients to the risk of additional damage, disfigurement, and even death in severe cases.
Here are some of the most commonly documented complications following careless plastic surgery:
One of the most commonly observed complications in most aesthetic surgeries is the development of hematomas. These are localized collections of blood that can cause discomfort, pain, and swelling around the surgical site.
Hematomas occur due to a break in the sutured vessels or inadequate bleeding control during the procedure. If left untreated, they can lead to infection and more severe tissue damage. The most common treatment for hematomas is making a small incision on the affected site and draining the packed blood.
According to published research studying the incidence of major hematomas in 129,007 plastic surgery patients, 1,180 patients sought emergency medical care 30 days after their surgery due to the development of hematomas.
Careless plastic surgery procedures can also damage various proximate organs, including the heart, lungs, and brain. Although this doesn’t commonly happen, it can still occur due to negligent surgeons performing the procedure.
Organ damage is usually caused when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part or in an area that is too close to vital organs. These complications can be prevented by relying on advanced imaging technology, such as MRIs and CT scans, to map the surgery site accurately.
Damage to any organ can be fatal and should not be taken lightly. If you think your plastic surgeon has been negligent in this regard, it’s best to take legal action against them.
Nerve damage can occur when a surgeon cuts too deep into the skin or accidentally nicks a nerve while operating. Similar to organ damage, this incident doesn’t always happen, but there are a few cases in which negligent surgeons have caused significant nerve damage to their patients.
This complication could occur in various aesthetic operations, such as damaging the nerves in the forehead from a facelift, cutting a nerve during the tummy tuck procedure, or severing a nerve in the arm during an arm lift.
Nerve damage can lead to temporary paralysis and permanent numbness in the affected areas. It can also cause chronic pain and discomfort due to the damaged nerves not being able to correctly transmit signals from the brain.
Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism
Deep vein thrombosis is when a clot of blood builds up in a deep vein, usually on the legs. It is caused when a surgeon does not take proper precautions to prevent the formation of clots, such as prescribing anticoagulant medications and wearing compression stockings after surgery.
On the other hand, pulmonary embolism is a severe complication that can occur when a blood clot travels to the lungs and blocks an artery. It is usually caused by inadequate post-operative care or negligence on the surgeon’s part.
Although there’s little literature available on the risk of VTE following plastic surgery, concerns regarding this potentially fatal complication have been growing among aesthetic surgeons.
Seroma is an accumulation of clear fluid under the skin after a surgical procedure. This condition is commonly observed in reconstructive surgery as a small lump or bubble on the skin. Seromas often occur and disappear on their own within a few weeks.
In aesthetic procedures, seromas usually form after tummy tucks, breast augmentation, and liposuction. Negligent damage to the neighboring lymphatic vessel can cause leakage of serous fluids and buildup under the skin.
When left untreated, the seroma could grow larger and develop a protective fibrous capsule, making it harder for the seroma to be drained. A sizable seroma can be a source of chronic pain, impaired mobility, and infection.
Anesthesia is critical in every invasive procedure, and it’s essential to be mindful of the associated risks. For instance, a negligent anesthesiologist could administer too much anesthesia or overlook the patient’s signs and symptoms of allergic reactions.
Anesthesia complications are rarely documented in plastic surgery literature. Still, there have been cases of patients who suffered from severe respiratory distress and even death due to anesthesia toxicity or volume overload.
Many factors, such as age, weight, and medical history, could affect the patient’s reaction to anesthesia. Other drugs or supplements taken before surgery could also affect how the body processes the anesthetic.
Plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals in the operating room must take the necessary precautions to ensure patient safety throughout the entire procedure.
Different procedures and patients entail different levels of risk for infection, but every surgical operation carries a slight chance of developing a bacterial or viral infection.
Despite the low-incidence rate of communicable surgical diseases in cosmetic procedures, they can be a considerable risk factor when there is a breach in the chain of sterility.
Negligence on the surgeon’s part can significantly increase the chances of infection. For instance, not following proper sterilization techniques or failing to prescribe the right post-operative antibiotics could lead to significant illnesses such as sepsis and necrotizing fasciitis.
Treatment of these diseases entails a long and expensive process of several rounds of antibiotic therapy, wound care, and even surgery. Therefore, ensuring that your surgeon adheres to all safety protocols before agreeing to proceed with a cosmetic operation is essential.
Have you experienced any of these complications after plastic surgery? If so, you may have a valid claim. Call the lawyers at The Pagan Law Firm at 212-967-8202 today to discuss your case.
What to Do After Your Plastic Surgery Went Wrong
As mentioned in earlier sections, cosmetic procedures carry a certain degree of inherent risk. But experienced cosmetic surgeons can substantially reduce these risks by taking the necessary precautions, if not eliminate them.
If you think that your surgery did not go as expected or have suffered any adverse reaction, here’s what you should do to file a formal complaint against the negligent cosmetic surgeon or the institution as a whole:
Talk to Your Doctor
Your first step should be to speak with the cosmetic or plastic surgeon who conducted your surgery and explain your condition. Let the surgeon know that you believe there was negligence involved in either a pre-operative assessment or during the surgery itself.
In most cases, the surgeon will schedule you for a corrective medical procedure and advise you on managing your condition. Ask the surgeon for specific steps to be taken during this period and ensure that you follow them strictly.
Follow the Healing Process to Prevent Further Complications
Once you’ve spoken to your surgeon about the suspected plastic surgery malpractice and they performed the corrective procedure, you should be more vigilant about the healing process. Follow all post-operative instructions and make sure to attend all follow-up appointments as well. If you fail to do so, your doctor may be able to use that against you in court.
During your recovery, it is best to monitor and document any changes or new symptoms that arise during the healing period. This information will be helpful when filing a formal complaint against the negligent surgeon or institution.
If possible, you should keep a document of your post-operative events and take pictures of any changes to the surgical site.
Speak With Another Doctor for a Second Opinion
If your condition persists or worsens even after corrective surgery, you should ask for a second opinion from an independent and reliable medical professional. This will help validate your concerns and provide additional evidence supporting your complaint.
When seeking a second medical opinion for cosmetic or plastic surgery malpractice, it would be best to consult with a respected plastic surgeon with a background in assessing plastic surgery malpractice. Their credibility could enhance the validity of your complaint.
Ask for Corrective Surgery
If your surgeon didn’t pre-emptively suggest a corrective surgery or they think you don’t need one, you should still ask for it. Corrective surgery aims to restore the aesthetic appearance promised to you during initial consultations.
Although you can request a corrective procedure from a different plastic surgeon, choosing the same surgeon who performed your initial operation would be in your best interest. This can provide continuity in care and reduce the chances of further complications.
Additionally, going for a different surgeon to perform the corrective procedure could possibly affect your medical malpractice case. Make sure to consult with knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys before making any decisions.
Take Pictures and Document Everything
When dealing with medical malpractice cases, the more physical evidence you hold, the better your chances of winning your legal battle. Take pictures of any changes to the surgical site or other post-surgery effects you’ve noticed.
Suppose you want to be keen on future issues. In that case, you can take a picture of the assessment procedure, the surgery, the post-operative follow-ups, and any other event or procedure that your surgeon carries out.
You must also preserve any paper trails and documents you accomplished, such as medical consents and waivers. This can help you build a compelling case against the negligent surgeon or institution.
Call a Lawyer
Lastly, you must hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to represent your case. You should look for an attorney with experience handling surgical errors or cosmetic surgery errors.
To find the ideal attorney for your case, you must consult with a few surgery malpractice lawyers before settling on one. Make sure to check their credentials, experience, and success rate. You can also speak with past clients to understand how the lawyer handled their cases. Remember that your chosen lawyer will represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit if the worst comes to worst. So, you must select the best lawyer for your unique situation.
Here at The Pagan Law Firm, we have over 30 years of experience and a proven track record of success. We will fight for you to attain the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, fill out our contact form or call us at 212-967-8202.
When is a Plastic Surgery That Went Wrong Considered Medical Malpractice?
Before filing a medical malpractice claim, your lawyer will help you identify if what happened counts as a valid plastic surgery malpractice case. Plastic surgery malpractice cases share the same elements as most medical malpractice cases. These include:
- Presence of duty: Your surgeon must provide standard medical care during the surgery and follow-up treatments proving a duty of care to the patient.
- Negligence: The surgeon must have failed to act as expected of a reasonable plastic surgeon, which led to complications or worsened your condition.
- Causation: The negligence or breach of duty caused the negative outcome.
- Sustained damages: The botched surgery must have caused you physical, psychological, and emotional harm. The damages could include pain, suffering, scarring or disfigurement, emotional distress, lost income, medical bills, and more.
These elements might seem straightforward at first glance, but proving the existence of these components is challenging. Experienced plastic surgery malpractice lawyers know what evidence to look for and how to put together a compelling case.
Contact The Pagan Law Firm Today!
Today, cosmetic surgeries are more accepted in society, and people are increasingly turning to them to improve their physical appearance. However, these surgeries are not entirely risk-free, and mistakes can happen.
If you’ve gone through a failed plastic surgery, don’t hesitate to contact our cosmetic surgery malpractice attorneys at The Pagan Law Firm.
Our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys will evaluate your case and provide the best legal advice on how to hold a negligent medical professional accountable for your injuries.