By Jennifer Wilding
Risks are inherent to any type of surgery, including reconstructive and elective medical procedures that alter the body’s physiology. However, just because risks are a known possible outcome doesn’t mean cosmetic plastic surgeons can engage in medical negligence without consequence. Whether you undergo a plastic surgery procedure to reshape your face or body after a substantial physical injury (reconstructive surgery) or you are seeking to improve upon your physical appearance with an elective procedure (cosmetic surgery), your surgeon is still required to adhere to a medical standard of care that keeps you safe from harm. So, if your procedure results in damage to your body, other harm to your health or death, because of a preventable action, you or your family might have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit even if a waiver was signed before the procedure.
Some examples of harmful errors that might occur during a cosmetic plastic surgery that someone may be able to seek legal recourse for include leaving surgical instruments behind inside your body, errors with anesthesia (using the wrong type or amount), a failure to identify known allergies, a failure to account for existing health conditions from a person’s medical history in assessments, operating on the wrong body part by mistake, injuring an internal organ by mistake, performing an incorrect surgical procedure, or a failure to obtain informed consent for the work done. When a surgery goes really wrong due to negligence in these areas, the outcome may include serious pain, paralysis, or even death.
Have you, or a loved one, recently been a victim of a bad cosmetic surgery or treatment?
To determine whether your botched plastic surgery might qualify for a medical malpractice case, you will want to review the following five-step guide.
5-Step Guide to Help You Determine If You May Have a Case
Step 1: Determine you are still within your state’s statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice case.
Statute of limitations windows vary from state to state. Your state’s statute of limitations could be as short as one year or as long as ten years, but many are around two-years from the date of the incident that caused harm. This means that you want to act fast if you think your surgeon engaged in medical negligence. If you are within the statute of limitations for the state the surgery took place in, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Confirm a surgeon-patient relationship can be established with supporting documentation.
Make sure the documentation you have supports that you trusted the surgeon to perform the specific procedure in exchange for compensation (paid by you or another entity) for a specific outcome.
If so, move on to Step 3. If not, you may need to request receipt transaction records and/or your medical records from the medical provider or insurance company before moving forward, but don’t delay. Sometimes records can take between 30-60 days to arrive to you after a formal request is made.
Step 3: Confirm that you have good reason to suspect a breach of a standard duty of care took place as part of the procedure or the recovery treatment.
For this you will likely need a second opinion of a medical expert in the same field to agree with your assessment that what was done to you, or not done to you or for you, for this specific type of procedure, was outside of the expected standard of treatment or care, thus resulting in your injury.
Additionally, medical records obtained from the provider may or may not contain the desired details for proof. If you happen to also have audio, video, photos, relevant email communication with the surgeon or staff, and/or eye-witness accounts of the negligent act or acts, these might also be useful in supporting your claim.
If your concern about negligence or breach of a duty of care is shared by a medical expert, move on to the next Step. If not, you may wish to make an appointment with a medical professional who can provide the expert analysis you need.
Step 4: Confirm a clear link between the surgeon’s negligence and your injury.
Before and after photo sets, X-rays, and/or other scans or lab test results work well to document the damage done. Any evidence that could be viewed by another medical expert in the field that provides a clear connection to the plastic surgeon’s reckless action or actions is ideal.
If you have gathered this information, move on to Step 5. If not, you may wish to seek out what supporting images and documentation would make your link complete for the benefit of a skeptical audience seeking proof.
Step 5: Gather information to support ways this injury has cost you in long-term physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, ongoing medical expenses, or lost wages.
Also, if it was your family member (a spouse, parent, or child) who was harmed or whose life, or quality of life, was taken away because of the surgery, write out a list of ways you are now deprived of former standard relationship comforts since your loved one was taken out of your life prematurely or is permanently disabled for life. The legal term for this is called loss of consortium.
If you managed to complete these steps with confidence – you may be well on your way to a lawsuit to pursue due compensation for your injury. Click here to start the process of seeking legal counsel and pursue the justice you deserve. Our team will review to see if our experts and resources are a good fit for helping you win your potential case.
If you didn’t make it past the first few steps, don’t give up yet!
It’s possible you still have a case, but you could use some legal assistance to get you the rest of the way there. If so, the five steps mentioned above can give you an idea of what to expect on the journey ahead with the help of an experienced legal advisor working on your side for a win, in the event you have a viable case.
Click here to share your recent surgery experience gone awry and find out if our legal team can assist you in moving your medical malpractice case toward the best possible outcome for you.