Cosmetic surgery is under the umbrella of plastic surgery, although the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. Cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure that is undertaken with the goal of enhancing or changing one’s appearance. As with any surgery, cosmetic surgery is not without its risks and errors can occur. When complications arise or a surgeon is negligent, a victim can suffer lasting affects. If a surgeon or medical professional commits an error that rises to a level of medical negligence, and the patient is injured or harmed in some way, that error can form the basis needed for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.
Kinds of Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are not one in the same. Plastic surgery is a type of procedure that focuses on repairing defects or damages. These may be present at birth or the result of some type of trauma. Cosmetic surgery is a subset of plastic surgery and is typically performed when a patient wants to improve their appearance in some way. The most common forms of cosmetic surgery are:
- Liposuction: the removal of fat from an area of the body
- Breast augmentation: making breasts larger or smaller
- Eyelid surgery: typically a lift
- Abdominoplasty: commonly referred to as a tummy tuck
- Rhinoplasty: commonly referred to as a nose job
- Face lift
- Neck lift
Elements Needed for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
When an error occurs during a cosmetic surgery, it is considered as serious as when an error occurs during any other type of procedure. The laws do not specify the type of surgery when it comes to medical malpractice.
Like with any other procedure, there are elements that must be in place for a lawsuit to be filed, much less successful. There must have been a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor must have breached the accepted standard of care, and the patient must have been harmed or injured.
The determination of a doctor-patient relationship is not difficult. If a doctor is performing surgery on a patient, a relationship exists. The medical standard of care is the care the surgeon administered based against the care that would have provided in a similar situation by a doctor with a similar education and in the same practice area. Finally, the fact that the patient was harmed must be proven. That is, the harm must be proven to have been a direct result of the surgeon’s negligence.
To prove the second and third elements, an attorney will typically rely on expert witnesses. The expert witnesses will testify to the current standard of care and the patient’s injury or harm. An attorney will question the witnesses in such a way that the judge and jury will understand that the harm or injury would not have occurred had the surgeon not have made an error or been negligent. When these three elements are proven, the lawsuit is successful.
It is important to keep in mind that not being happy with the results of a cosmetic procedure is not grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is also important to remember that negligence or error is not inclusive of the normal risks that are a part of any surgery. This is why it is vital to connect with an attorney experienced in surgical error before a patient decides whether or not to file a lawsuit.
All of this said, some of the more common injuries that arise from surgical error include severe scarring, infection, nerve damage, and complications from anesthesia. Complications that are not grounds for a lawsuit are normal scarring, bruising and swelling.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has a statute of limitations when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits. In the state of Florida, a patient has two years from the date the injury or harm was discovered to file suit. There is a blanket deadline to be aware of. No medical malpractice suit, save for those with fraud exceptions, can be filed more than four years after the alleged malpractice, no matter when the injury was discovered.
It is atypical for a child to undergo cosmetic surgery, but in the instance of a minor being injured during such a procedure, the same statute of limitations applies except for minors under eight. In these cases, the lawsuit must be filed before the child’s eighth birthday.
If you or a loved one was injured during a cosmetic procedure in Miami, you may have a right to be compensated for those injuries. If you have any questions regarding your right to seek compensation, please reach out to our office. A member of our team will help you set up an appointment for a no-cost case evaluation. During that evaluation, we will review the details of your procedure and resultant harm and help you determine whether or not you have the basis of a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.