Can I Sue My Plastic Surgeon?
Cosmetic surgeons face the same professional obligations as all other medical professionals to do no harm to their patients. When a patient suffers harm from a cosmetic surgery procedure, it is possible for the patient to pursue a medical malpractice claim. However, since most cosmetic surgery procedures are voluntary, patients may have a hard time proving medical negligence and securing compensation for damages outside of very clear cases of egregious medical negligence.
Medical Malpractice in Cosmetic Surgery
When a patient elects to have a cosmetic procedure performed, any such procedure entails a degree of risk. The cosmetic surgeon must help the patient understand all the risks of the procedure in accordance with the law requiring informed consent. Every patient has the right to make informed decisions about a course of treatment.
One example of medical negligence that could constitute grounds for a medical malpractice claim against a cosmetic surgeon would be the surgeon failing to disclose a known risk of a procedure and the patient suffering harm as a result. However, if the surgeon clearly explains the risks of a procedure and the patient agrees to the procedure anyway, the patient would not automatically have grounds for a malpractice claim if a possible negative side effect manifests naturally. The patient effectively assumed this risk by agreeing to the procedure despite knowing the possibility of this result.
Cosmetic surgeons can face medical malpractice claims for possible errors.
- Improper use of cosmetic surgery drugs like Botox
- Infections from poor operation room sanitation
- Failure to provide clear preoperative and postoperative instructions
- Failure to obtain a patient’s informed consent
- Botching a surgical procedure due to negligence
- An inexperienced surgeon performing a complex procedure without the requisite training
Challenges in Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Lawsuits
The main obstacle facing many plaintiffs in lawsuits for botched cosmetic surgery is bias; cosmetic surgery by definition is elective and essentially unnecessary, so a patient chooses to put him- or herself in a potentially dangerous situation to improve his or her image. This can skew the jury in favor of the cosmetic surgeon, and most juries tend to give cosmetic surgeons in these cases the benefit of the doubt. Juries also tend to award lower damages to plaintiffs who win their cosmetic surgery malpractice cases than plaintiffs who sustain injuries from necessary medical procedures.
Personal prejudices may not manifest immediately once a case begins and jury selection finishes. Some jurors may believe they can provide impartial decisions based solely on the facts of the case, only for their biases to surface once the facts of the case start appearing. It is ultimately human nature for people to make snap judgments on others based on prior experiences.
Some jurors may have had cosmetic surgery in the past and believe the plaintiff is irresponsible for choosing a poor surgeon. Others may simply be unconsciously attempting to punish a plaintiff for choosing unnecessary surgery for vanity. Some jurors may unconsciously lash out at assumed wealthy plaintiffs who they believe squander their money to look better while others go hungry. There are countless possible biases that may arise within the jurors in a cosmetic surgery malpractice case, and the plaintiff should brace for these issues.
Find an Attorney as Soon as Possible
A medical malpractice attorney can help an injured cosmetic surgery patient determine his or her best options for recovery. Cosmetic surgery cases are unique in that they involve mostly voluntary procedures, and plaintiffs in these cases face substantial challenges. However, anyone injured by a medical professional’s negligence has the right to pursue compensation for the resulting damages. A medical malpractice attorney can help a potential client determine if malpractice occurred and what type of damages the client could win if he or she succeeds with the case.