Cosmetic surgery is a type of medical procedure that is intended to improve the physical appearance of a patient. Some common types of cosmetic surgery are: Liposuction, eye-lifts, breast augmentation, face-lifts, collagen injections, and rhinoplasty.
Sometimes a person is unhappy with their looks after a cosmetic procedure. Much of the time general unhappiness with the outcome is NOT grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuits. Patients usually sign an acknowledgement that there is no guarantee that they will be happy with the outcome.
Where plastic surgery CAN result in medical malpractice is when the patient leaves the operating room with a significant injury the patient did not have before, such as brain damage caused by erroneously supplied anesthesia.
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When Has a Cosmetic Surgeon Committed Malpractice?
In a Medical Malpractice claim, a patient must prove that the surgeon: Owed the patient a duty to exercise the standard of care that a reasonable surgeon would exercise in the same set of circumstances, that the surgeon breached that duty by failing to exercise the accepted and expected standard, that the breach was the actual or proximate cause of patient’s damages/injuries, and that the patient suffered an injury as a result of the surgeon’s breach. It must also be proven that there was a patient-doctor relationship.
What Duty Does a Cosmetic Surgeon Owe a Patient?
Like all medical professionals, the law requires that surgeons exercise the degree of care that a reasonable surgeon in a similar set of circumstances would exercise.
The duties owed include: The duty to possess the medical skill and knowledge required that a reasonably competent doctor would possess in the same field or specialty and to exercise that reasonable care, skill, and diligence in his/her medical procedures.
Possible Defenses to Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice
There are four typically accepted defenses a cosmetic surgeon can use when they are sued for malpractice:
- They adhered to the applicable duty and standard of care that is owed a patient.
- Their actions had no causal connection with patient injuries.
- That the patient was contributorily negligent, meaning they failed to take care of themselves and were responsible for their injuries.
- The statute of limitations has passed.
What may be recovered in a Malpractice Lawsuit?
Damages include physical injuries that arise from the cosmetic surgery, as well as:
- Mental and emotional suffering,
- Past medical expenses,
- Economic loss, and
- Future medical costs.
Warning: “Awake” Surgery (Lidocaine)
Awake surgery is the method of cosmetic surgery that leaves patients wide awake by using local injections of lidocaine to manage pain in the area where the doctor is performing surgery. This method is considered extremely dangerous.
Lidocaine is the local anesthetic drug that is typically used for “Awake Surgery”. This drug is powerful and potentially lethal. It can cause the heart to stop beating if too much is negligently injected. This occurrence can lead to brain damage or death.
In order to help build a solid case, one must know who administered the anesthesia and what their qualifications were. It is almost impossible for a surgeon to safely administer the anesthesia and perform surgery at the same time.
You Will Probably Need an Attorney to Win a Cosmetic Surgery Lawsuit
Medical malpractice claims are extremely complex for many reasons. One of the biggest obstacles faced is that doctors usually are unwilling to admit their errors and will challenge all medical malpractice claims.
The Parrish Law Firm medical malpractice attorney works with northern Virginia citizens who have suffered from the negligently performed cosmetic surgery and are looking for fair compensation for their suffering. Contact us today for a free case consultation, or call us at (571) 253-7182.
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A representative of the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC researched and wrote this article with Mr. Parrish’s consent. If you have any questions regarding the legal implications of what you have just read, please send us your question by clicking here so we can have our attorney review it.