While many people think of elective surgery designed to enhance one’s physical appearance when they think of plastic surgery, plastic surgery is a godsend for people who have suffered physical injuries due to accidents, have congenital deformities, or have suffered trauma due to disease. Without plastic surgery, some people would not be able to enjoy their activities of daily living.
Nonetheless, plastic surgeons are not immune to claims of medical malpractice.
In a review of closed plastic surgery medical malpractice claims undertaken by a large medical malpractice insurance company covering a 10-year period, it was found that plastic surgery patients were dissatisfied with their results in 29% of the claims; plastic surgery patients with scar deformities accounted for 14% of the closed plastic surgery cases; emotional distress was claimed in 14% of the cases; infection as the basis for the plastic surgery malpractice claim was alleged in 14% of the closed cases; asymmetry, death, and burn each accounted for 5% of the cases; pain was alleged in 3% of the closed claims; hematoma (a localized collection of blood that accumulates in an organ, tissue, or body space as a result of leakage from a broken blood vessel) or seroma (a mass or swelling caused by the localized accumulation of serum within a tissue or organ) was the basis of 2% of the closed plastic surgery medical malpractice cases; and, allergy, DVT or PE, and foreign body each accounted for less than 1% of the closed cases.
Notably, the top three plastic surgery malpractice allegations (dissatisfaction, scar deformity, and emotional distress) are neither life-threatening conditions nor are they serious medical complications resulting from plastic surgery.
What were the plastic surgery procedures that resulted in the most malpractice claims? In descending order, they were breast augmentation, abdominoplasty, breast reconstruction, face procedures that were not around the eyes or the nose, breast reduction, and liposuction.
The medical malpractice insurance company found that only one-third of the claims were based on the quality of the plastic surgeon’s technical skills – the major factors were patient-related behavior and poor communication.
It appears that patient dissatisfaction with the results of plastic surgery is the driving force behind many plastic surgery claims, as opposed to physical harm from procedures. Contributing factors include unrealistic patient expectations and the patient’s failure to comply with the plastic surgeon’s instructions due to communication issues. It would appear that plastic surgeons may reduce their risk of being sued for plastic surgery malpractice if they more effectively communicate with their patients regarding the results they may expect as well as the instructions they must follow.
If you or a loved one suffered a bad outcome, injury, or other harms as a result of a plastic surgery procedure in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your plastic surgery claim for you and represent you in a claim against a plastic surgeon, if appropriate.
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