When is Failed Plastic Surgery Considered Malpractice?

July 27, 2021

If problems arise following a procedure, you may be wondering, when is failed plastic surgery considered malpractice? Since many plastic surgeries are considered elective procedures, legal rights can be confusing, and filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be challenging to obtain a successful outcome.

While difficulties arise in a case of plastic surgery-related medical malpractice, it’s not impossible to win if you can soundly prove some level of negligence on the part of the plastic surgeon, staff, or the facility. A medical malpractice attorney in Philadelphia at Wapner Newman can help you through these troubling times, call today to learn more.

What is Classified as Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery can be classified in two ways — reconstructive or cosmetic. Overall, it is a specialty type of surgery involving the alteration, restoration, or reconstruction of a part of the human body.

Reconstructive plastic surgery is geared toward restoring function and normal appearance and often seeks to correct any deformities caused by trauma or medical conditions, or even birth defects. These surgeries are seen as medically necessary.

Cosmetic plastic surgery differs in that it is an elective or voluntary surgery. Its goal is to enhance one’s appearance, and it is not medically necessary.

Examples of elective cosmetic plastic surgery include face lifts, rhinoplasty, liposuction, breast augmentation, and various others. Reconstructive or medically necessary plastic surgery includes skin grafts for burns, craniofacial surgery, and breast reconstruction following a mastectomy.

What is Medical Malpractice? How Hard is it to Prove

Medical malpractice occurs when a physician, medical professional, or facility (including hospitals) causes, by way of a negligent act or omission, a patient’s injury.

Medical malpractice may occur as a result of one or several issues during plastic surgery, including:

  • Pre-op or surgical errors. Errors made before or during surgery may include administering the wrong anesthesia or the wrong amount, performing incorrect operational procedures, leaving instruments inside the body, or operating on an unintended part of the body.
  • Lack of training or enough experience on the part of the plastic surgeon or staff.
  • Failure to obtain informed consent. Prior to surgery, surgeons are obligated to explain the risks involved and obtain, in writing, your acceptance and acknowledgment of these risks.
  • Failure to obtain and review a patient’s complete medical history. It’s imperative that your surgeon review your complete medical history to identify any allergies, current medications, and past medical issues and complications.

Proving medical malpractice involves complex steps, including the identification of what led to the act or omission, which could be any or all of these.

When is Failed Plastic Surgery Considered Malpractice?

A failed plastic surgery is considered malpractice when injury or adverse conditions result due to the negligence on the part of the surgeon.

Common complaints following a plastic surgery gone wrong include:

  • post-operative infections
  • damage or destruction of nerves, tissues, or skin
  • blood clots
  • excessive bleeding
  • allergic reactions
  • scarring
  • excessive bruising or skin discoloration
  • paralysis
  • disfigurement

Suffering some type of negative reaction or effect from your surgery doesn’t necessarily classify as malpractice, however. You will need to prove the following:

  • the plastic surgeon owed you a duty of care,
  • a breach of that duty of care occurred,
  • such breach caused injury, and
  • the injury sustained caused damages (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.).

In answer to when is failed plastic surgery considered malpractice, then, it comes down to negligence. Knowing how to prove this is imperative to your case and is why a dedicated medical malpractice attorney on your side will be beneficial.

Can You Sue a Plastic Surgeon for a Botched Surgery?

Botched surgeries involve surgical or procedural errors on the part of the surgeon or medical staff. When such errors are the result of negligence, you can pursue a lawsuit against the plastic surgeon.

The biggest challenge when it comes to malpractice in these types of cases is that, if it is cosmetic surgery, it is elective and not medically necessary. Yet, just because you chose to have a certain surgery shouldn’t mean your rights are non-existent if something goes wrong.

Here are few things to know if you are considering suing your plastic surgeon:

  • You signed a waiver. Determine whether or not you signed a waiver prior to the surgery. Many cosmetic procedures, being voluntary, require your signature on such a document. These waivers are to protect the surgeon by having you acknowledge you realize the risks involved. Signing one of these, however, doesn’t mean you can’t win a medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Documentation. Compile all records relating to your surgery to share with your legal team. Include any waiver you did sign, other documents provided by your plastic surgeon, medical records and bills, employment records showing lost income or benefits, and any other records relating to the surgery and resulting injury.
  • Timely filing. It’s also essential to note that the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is two years. This means you have two years from the date of the injury, or from when you realized the injury exists, to file a lawsuit.
  • Available compensation. Compensation for economic and non-economic damages will be calculated by your medical malpractice attorney. In Pennsylvania, no cap on amounts for these damages exists, so you can potentially obtain full awards for your losses, including those that are physical, mental, and emotional.

Pennsylvania takes medical malpractice claims seriously. So much so that a certificate of merit must be filed within 60 days of your claim. This certificate is filed by your medical malpractice attorney, stating that there was a deviation from an acceptable professional standard by a licensed professional.

So, can you sue a plastic surgeon for a botched surgery? The answer is yes, but, again, only if negligence plays a role in that botched surgery and can be proven.

Find out if Your Failed Plastic Surgery is Considered Malpractice by Contacting Wapner Newman

If you’ve recently undergone plastic surgery and were injured or suffered adverse conditions as a result, you may have a medical malpractice claim. Speaking with an experienced medical malpractice attorney with Wapner Newman can determine whether professional negligence occurred and what your next steps are in obtaining the compensation you need and deserve.

Call us today at (215) 569-0900 and schedule a professional consultation with our legal team.