In her Recommended Order dated January 6, 2017, a Florida Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) stated that a Florida doctor who performed cosmetic surgery procedures on multiple patients in May 2015, including liposuction and fat injection procedures commonly referred to as a “Brazilian Butt Lift,” fell below the standard of care by puncturing or perforating internal organs of two patients, having admitted to the mother of one of the patients that he “messed up” and sliced through her daughter’s small bowel with the cannula like it was “butter.”
Liposuction is an elective cosmetic procedure that involves the removal of fat from a patient. Fat is removed with a cannula, or a long, thin, metal rod, attached to a suctioning device. The cannula is repeatedly passed through the patient’s subcutaneous layer until the desired amount of fat is removed.
The ALJ stated that the doctor was responsible for ensuring that the cannula used during liposuction procedures was manipulated with precision and extreme care to avoid contact with the patients’ internal organs. With regard to one patient, the doctor pushed the cannula through the patient’s abdominal wall, damaging her chest wall and puncturing her liver at least five times. With regard to another patient, exploratory surgery at the hospital following her liposuction with gluteal fat transfer procedure performed by the doctor at a medical spa revealed that the patient had a hole in her small bowel that was leaking fluid into her abdominal cavity.
The ALJ stated that the clear and convincing testimony of the experts during the administrative hearing was that organ punctures during liposuction are exceedingly rare complications which do not occur in the absence of recklessness in the placement of the cannula and insufficient attention to the feel of the procedure itself as the cannula passes through fat, tissues, muscles, and the abdominal wall.
The ALJ stated in her Recommended Order, “An organ puncture during liposuction is not a per se act of medical negligence. Nevertheless, in this case, [the doctor] admitted to Patient N.F’s mother that he “messed up” and sliced through Patient N.F.’s small bowel with his cannula like it was “butter.” This exceedingly rare complication occurred in not one, but two, of [the doctor’s] procedures, on the same day … The only inference that can be drawn is that [the doctor] violated the standard of care and committed malpractice by the reckless and improper angling of the cannula for these two procedures, resulting in the perforation of internal organs.”
Despite the egregious acts of medical negligence found by the ALJ that seriously harmed multiple patients of the doctor in May 2015, the ALJ recommended that the Florida Board of Medicine (“Board”) enter a final order finding that the doctor violated sections 458.331(1)(t) and 458.331(1)(m), Florida Statutes, and impose a fine of $14,000.00; that the Board issue a reprimand against the doctor for certain record-keeping violations; that the Board place the doctor on probation for a period of two years; and, that the Board impose costs of the investigation and prosecution of the case.
We ask: what about requiring the doctor to be re-trained and/or re-educated regarding the cosmetic surgery procedures he intends to perform, along with proof of successfully satisfying the re-training requirements, before allowing him to perform any surgery in the future, as well as requiring that a qualified doctor supervise him in the procedure room until he can prove that he no longer poses a risk to his patient’s safety?
If you or a family member suffered serious injury or other harm as a result of cosmetic surgery in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly consult with a Florida medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your state) who may investigate your cosmetic surgery medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a cosmetic surgery medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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