Cosmetic surgery negligence is a breach in the duty of care by a physician that results in the injury of a cosmetic surgery patient. This could include death during a procedure, problems that arise with a procedure after surgery and recovery, and other issues. The patient or survivors can seek damages in court to compensate for the injury. These damages can include both the expenses of repairing the botched surgery and compensation for the emotional pain and distress associated with the negligence.
Professional negligence cases require the establishment of a duty of care between the defendant and the plaintiff. If a cosmetic surgeon walks down the street and someone stops her to ask about surgery, this does not establish a professional relationship, and that person cannot sue later. In a situation where a patient arrives for a consult and clearly intends to become a patient, this creates a professional relationship, and the surgeon has a responsibility to behave appropriately.
Cosmetic surgeons may fail to serve their patients through a specific action or an omission. For instance, cosmetic surgery negligence might apply if a surgeon installed a breast implant improperly and was aware of the issue, or failed to observe generally accepted standards and practices while inserting the implant. Negligence can also arise in pre-surgical consults if a surgeon does not ensure that the patient is fully informed about the risks and benefits of the surgery, or if the surgeon promises results but cannot achieve them. After the surgery, the doctor may be liable for cosmetic surgery negligence if he fails to identify and address surgical complications like infections.
Patients who want to establish a case for cosmetic surgery negligence need clear documentation of the issue. They can subpoena charts and other documentation associated with their cases. They may also call upon expert witnesses who can testify about current surgical standards and techniques. If a procedure was not performed properly and the patient needed to consult another surgeon to fix it, documentation from that surgeon becomes part of the case.
Like other members of the medical professional, cosmetic surgeons carry malpractice insurance to protect themselves from cosmetic surgery negligence suits. If a patient files a suit, the insurance company may attempt to work out a settlement to prevent the case from going to trial. If this is not successful or the insurance company feels a defense in court may be successful, it can assist the surgeon with locating an attorney. Surgeons may also receive assistance from the legal department at the hospital or clinic where they work.