Who Is Liable for Botched Plastic Surgery?

ELI5: Negligence

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Plastic surgery can be a very costly endeavor—especially when things don’t go as planned on the operating table. Furthermore, you might not look exactly like you envisioned you’d look. Given how much plastic surgery costs, it’s understandable that patients would want to look their best and feel their best after the surgery. However, that doesn’t always happen. In the United States, there are plenty of cases of patients having complications from their plastic surgery, but not all of them rise to the level of medical malpractice.


A valid medical malpractice claim has all of the following elements: duty of care, breach of duty, injury, causation, and damages. In medical malpractice cases, a duty of care is already established since medical providers already have a duty of care toward their patients. Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals breach their duty of care, and the breach is the direct cause of the patient’s injuries. Additionally, the patient has to be able to prove there were damages, economic or otherwise. It’s important to note that a bad outcome does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice. For example, you may have some soreness after you have your tonsils removed. That doesn’t necessarily mean your doctor made a mistake since it’s normal to be sore after an operation.


Doctors are responsible for giving a patient all the information they need to make informed decisions about their health. This is called informed consent. Many people suffering from obesity choose to have lap band surgery, or gastric bypass surgery. Although these operations can be life-saving, they may also come with severe complications. For example, hernias, bowel obstructions, and gallstones are just a few of the complications resulting from gastric bypass surgery. If your doctor fails to inform you of these potential complications, and you end up having an injury from these complications, your doctor may have violated your state’s informed consent laws and you may have a medical malpractice claim. However, if your doctor told you about these complications, and you consented to the operation and ended up having these complications, you would likely not be able to file a claim against your doctor.


Remember, a bad experience does not always indicate medical malpractice. In short, medical malpractice only happens when a medical professional makes a preventable mistake. If you go in to have botox done, your doctor may warn you that, because of how botox works, you may develop paralysis or weakening of the muscles around the injection sites. If this happens, it’s not necessarily medical malpractice. This is because your doctor didn’t make a mistake that caused these side effects: paralysis and weakening of the muscles are both known long-term side effects of botox. However, if unexpected side effects begin to occur, that may indicate that the doctor made a mistake.


There’s only so much plastic surgery can do. You’ve doubtlessly heard the stories of ordinary people who have spent a small fortune on cosmetic surgery in an attempt to look like their favorite celebrities. And, if you look at the post-op images of the person next to the celebrity they’re attempting to impersonate, you might notice that, though they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, they still don’t look anything like the celebrity. Not looking exactly like you envisioned doesn’t mean malpractice has occurred. However, if your doctor gave you a much different nose than the one you asked for, you may have a medical malpractice case.


For the most part, medical malpractice lawsuits only apply to medical professionals. However, an exception to this may be a person who is pretending to be a licensed medical professional. You’ve likely heard the horror stories of people who have been swindled by con artists pretending to be doctors. These ersatz doctors have injected their clients with dangerous concoctions that caused permanent damage and, in some tragic cases, death. In cases such as the aforementioned, it is possible to file a medical malpractice claim among the other complaints filed against those posing as doctors.


Medical malpractice cases are extremely serious and frequently take years to resolve. If you’ve been the victim of a medical professional’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation. At Moxie Law Group, our experienced legal team has handled all sorts of medical malpractice cases.

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