On July 29, 2014, a former patient of a Chicago plastic surgeon filed a lawsuit against the plastic surgeon and his medical practice, alleging that he took before and after photographs of her face with regard to her facial reconstructive surgery in 2004, which were supposed to remain confidential and only placed in her medical records. However, when the plastic surgeon opened a new practice in 2013, she alleges that he published (posted) the before and after photographs of her face on its website, referring to her nose as “cocaine nose.”
The website for the plastic surgeon’s practice states in reference to “Cocaine Nose”:
Cocaine causes a constriction or closing of blood vessels. When cocaine is snorted through the nose, it causes the blood vessels in the nasal lining to constrict. Chronic cocaine usage can result in prolonged constriction of the nasal lining blood vessels with resultant death of these tissues. This results in sores in the nasal lining and septum that can lead to perforations of the septum, infection, loss of supporting cartilage, scarring and eventual collapse of the nose. Unique to the cocaine injured nose is the relative sparing of the external skin cover.
Reconstruction of the cocaine injured nose can be very challenging as the nasal tissues have been permanently injured. Surgery of the cocaine nose is wrought with a high complication rate, usually infection. Reconstruction of the cocaine nose may involve judicious placement of cartilage grafts from the ribs or ears to restore the nasal shape. In advanced cases, the diseased nasal lining must be replaced with healthy tissue, usually from the forearm. This involves microsurgery that allows for the transplantation of arm tissue … to the internal nose with repair of the blood vessels. Dramatic improvement in nasal form and function can be achieved with this technique which was pioneered by [the Chicago plastic surgeon].
The woman’s lawsuit alleges that she did not consent to the posting of her photographs on the plastic surgeon’s website and seeks compensatory damages for breach of the fiduciary duty of confidentiality and for violating HIPAA requirements. She alleges that she suffered harm (distress, shame, and humiliation) and that the plastic surgeon should have known that his former patient would suffer emotional injuries by publishing her photos on his website.
Other defendants named in the woman’s lawsuit include the plastic surgeon’s former employer and the company that designed and developed the plastic surgeon’s website.
If you or a family member were harmed by the negligence of a plastic surgeon in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your plastic surgery malpractice claim for you and represent you in a case against a plastic surgeon, if appropriate.
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