Plastic, or cosmetic, surgery is on the rise in the United States. Such a surgery is performed for a variety of reasons – health concerns, corrective procedures to fix disfigurements, or simply for cosmetic appeal. Common cosmetic procedures include breast augmentation, face lifts, rhinoplasty (nose jobs), liposuction, gastric bypass, laparoscopic lap band, and stomach stapling.
As these surgeries become more commonplace, people begin to forget that they are complex medical procedures that require certified, properly trained medical professionals to perform them. Mistakes made during cosmetic surgery can cause permanent physical injury, disfigurements, or even death.
Each year, thousands of Americans are injured or killed from surgical malpractice, which includes cosmetic surgery. These procedures may be performed at a hospital, cosmetic surgery center, or medical clinic, but they all require the professionals to act with a certain standard of care.
If the standard of care is not met, and injuries occur as a result, the individual may be a candidate for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Common Injuries and Damages After A Plastic Surgery That Went Wrong
Injuries that result from plastic surgery malpractice range from aesthetic damage to more serious complications such as internal infections and paralysis. The most common injuries or damages that an individual sustains from plastic surgery malpractice are: scarring, disfigurement, drooping or caving of the surgical site, skin discoloration, skin irregularities, infection, excessive bleeding, paralysis, hematoma or blood clotting under the skin, drop in blood pressure, necrosis (insufficient supply of oxygen causing death of tissue), nerve damage, adverse reactions to anesthesia, and sometimes even death.
How Do You Know if You’ve Been the Victim of Plastic Surgery Malpractice?
There are some potential indicators of plastic surgery malpractice to look out for. Recently, there has been a rise in non-plastic surgeons performing the operation. Sometimes doctors will take a course in cosmetic surgery and think this qualifies them to act as a plastic surgeon.
Plastic surgery is an extremely specific type of operation and a simple course on the topic does not qualify you to perform the intricate procedure. A non-plastic surgeon performing an operation can be a pretty good indicator of medical malpractice. Only American Board of Plastic Surgery certified physicians should be performing any procedures. This organization requires extensive knowledge and over six years of training.
Additional signs include using nurse anesthetists instead of anesthesiologists, performing lengthy procedures in private offices away from hospitals and unequipped to deal with any complications, failing to take a full patient history, exceeding the scope of the patient’s informed consent, and operating on the wrong part of the body. These behaviors fall well below the standard of care that is required by certified plastic surgeons.
Plastic Surgery and the use of Anesthesia
One the greatest risks of a procedure is the administration of anesthesia. Anesthesia is extremely difficult to administer, and it requires years of schooling. Only certified anesthesiologists should administer the drug. The same individual should be monitoring the patient’s vitals throughout the procedure. If incorrectly administered, anesthesia can cause irreversible errors such as paralysis, and even death.
When Should You Speak with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
If you or a loved one has experienced any of the injuries or situations described above, you may have a successful case for medical malpractice. Your case may be based on negligence, emotional trauma, incorrect medication, nerve damage, aesthetic damage, or wrongful death. These cases are complicated, so read below to see how a lawyer can you help get the most compensation for your suffering.
Contact the plastic surgery malpractice attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 694-7291 for immediate legal help.
How a Lawyer Can Help
When a doctor fails to exercise proper care when performing plastic surgery and harm results, a lawyer can help you understand your options. Plastic surgeons have a responsibility to follow proper protocol and procedure. If they fail to do so, they might be in violation of the law, which means you are entitled to compensation for your suffering.
Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex and difficult to navigate on your own. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can make the process much easier for you. They can tell you if you have a good case, and how much you are likely to receive in compensation.
What a Lawyer Can Do
Legally, medical malpractice claims are proven by the same set of guidelines that prove other negligent behavior. The only difference is that there is more of a focus on the medical standard of care and the medical procedures. Since these cases are complex, you want to find a lawyer who has experience with medical malpractice and cosmetic surgery cases.
Medical malpractice lawyers can fight for you in and out of court. In order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must be able to prove that:
- the doctor had a duty to act a certain way,
- the doctor breached his duty to act,
- an injury was sustained , and
- the injury resulted from the breach of the standard of care.
Medical malpractice lawyers will work with you to ensure you met the burden of proof for each one of these elements.
Plastic surgery cases can be difficult in proving the action, or inaction, that the medical professional took. Typically, this is due to the high number of personnel involved in the process.
For example, doctors, surgeons, nurses, administrative staff, and other professionals may all be involved in the patients care and will all have different tasks. Sometimes, the injuries sustained as the result of plastic surgery malpractice are not readily apparent or present themselves years after the procedure is done.
How Much Can a Person Recover after a medical mistake?
How much compensation you receive depends on the severity of your injury and the degree to which the doctor breached his or her duty. Additionally, different damages will be awarded depending on whether you settle the case or whether the case goes to trial. In a trial, the jury will decide how much you should receive in damages.
Different types of damages exist depending on your situation. Commonly, economic damages will be awarded in a successful case. Economic damages are things such as medical expenses for past and future harm, lost wages from having to take time off work, or other costs incurred as a result of the injury.
Non-economic damages are trickier and include things that do not have a numerical value. Non-economic damages consist of pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional trauma, and even wrongful death.
Finally, punitive damages are awarded in cases where the medical professional made a big mistake. Putative damages will be awarded as a way to punish the person who caused the harm and to deter others from making the same mistake.
What to Expect Throughout the Process
Generally, an experienced attorney will sit down and discuss your case with you. They will ask for all the information and documentation you have regarding you or your loved ones operation, such as why you decided to have the procedure, how the doctor was advertised, what harm you experienced, and your relationships with your doctors.
If the attorney thinks you have a good case, or they are easily able to identify the doctor’s error, then they will move forward with suing the doctor or healthcare professional. If they need more information, they may proceed into the discovery process.
This will entail collecting additional documents and talking to the doctor’s or healthcare professionals involved. After a complaint is filed, the opposing party with have the chance to respond. Most cases will settle outside of court, meaning that the two parties will come to a fair agreement.
If that does not happen, then your case will go to trial, where your lawyer will present all your evidence to the judge and the jury. The jury will then decide the amount of compensation you are awarded.
If you or a loved one has experienced negative results from plastic or cosmetic surgery and you believe the medical professional is at fault, contact a medical malpractice lawyer today.
There are time limits on injury claims so it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the incident. A good lawyer will walk you through the process and address the topics discussed in this article.