Plastic Surgery Malpractice
The potential for a malpractice claim is something many plastic surgery patients may think about when the outcome of their surgery has been less than ideal. However, a poor cosmetic result from plastic surgery is not always an indication the doctor was negligent. What has to be proven is that the surgeon's performance (before, during or after surgery) was below the "standard of care."
Plastic Surgery Malpractice is Not Uncommon
Plastic surgery, as with surgery in general, is an area of medical practice in which the doctors experience a significant amount of complaints from their patients. After all, cosmetic procedures are generally elective and patients seek such surgery to improve something about their appearance. When the outcome is not an improvement the patient is naturally disappointed, and they may turn to their surgeon for answers.
While patient expectations tend to run high, it is important to remember who is in charge: the surgeon. Why would a surgeon agree to perform an expensive, elective procedure on a patient when the risks outweigh the potential benefits? Unfortunately, that is sometimes what happens, and patients are left disfigured or worse, dead. There are reports of unqualified doctors who perform risky procedures on vulnerable patients. There are instances when well-qualified surgeons simply let their patient dictate what procedure is done or how it is done, over good medical practice. News stories about such cases bring to light some of these tragedies.
The Duty of a Plastic Surgeon
Under California law, a medical specialist (such as a plastic or cosmetic surgeon) must use the level of skill, knowledge, and care in the diagnosis and treatment of a patient that other reasonably careful plastic surgeons would use in similar circumstances. One of the first questions to be asked is whether the surgeon actually has the requisite knowledge. Are they a board-certified plastic surgeon? Do they have enough experience with the particular type of procedure to be performed? Ideally, these are questions every patient should have answered before going under the knife. But, that is not always the case.
The next questions have to do with the pre-operative, surgical and post-operative care provided. Did the surgeon provide adequate information to the patient, the information a reasonable person would consider important in deciding to have the proposed treatment or procedure? Did the doctor perform the surgery competently? Lastly, did the surgeon provide reasonable post-operative care? If the answer to any or all of these questions is "no" and the patient suffered harm, there may be a malpractice case to pursue.
Medical malpractice cases tend to be expensive to pursue and time consuming. However, if doctors are not held accountable for their neglect pretty soon the line between good medicine and neglect will disappear.
If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of plastic surgery malpractice, a free consultation with an experienced attorney may be the first step toward justice and compensation for your losses.