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The three most common types of plastic surgery medical malpractice claims

Plastic/cosmetic surgery malpractice can cause disfigurement, nerve injury, and even death

With plastic and cosmetic surgery so accessible these days, there’s more information available about the most common types of medical malpractice in this largely elective medical specialty.

Reviewing information from closed cases shows that the three most frequent types of medical malpractice allegations account for around three fourths of all claims. The top three include:

• Improper performance of surgery. The crux of this type of claim is that the patient isn’t satisfied with the outcome.

Under Texas law, these are typically difficult to prove unless the surgeon did something substandard during the procedure. Closed claims data suggest that this is only the case in about 5% of claims. A recent breast liposuction case of mine provides a good example. The surgeon used radiofrequency-assisted liposuction and inserted the cannula (the device used to suck out the liquefied fat) in a plane too close to the skin. This mistake caused burns and destroyed the vascular structures that supplied both nipple complexes, leading to nipple necrosis (death).

• Improper management of surgical complications. This type of claim includes delayed treatment of infections, optic nerve infarction because of improper positioning, and decreased circulation because of improper use of compression garments and hose.

In my experience, many plastic surgeons are notorious for downplaying patient concerns for post-operative infections and, when they finally acknowledge them, for trying to manage them in-house rather than immediately referring patients to wound care.

Some plastic or cosmetic surgical procedures are known to increase the risk of blood clot formation in the deep veins of the legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When a surgeon chooses to go forward with multiple procedures at once, which requires a long time in an operating room, it places patients at further risk. We handled a case in Dallas where a woman in her 40s died because after she went home, she developed DVTs, which led to a pulmonary embolism. Her surgeon had not taken proper precautions to protect her against them.

Improper performance of a treatment or procedure. These claims include injuries such as scarring, disfigurement from fat injections, and nerve damage and scarring from liposuction.

Common injuries involved in plastic and cosmetic surgery malpractice include emotional trauma, scarring, cosmetic injury, infection, burns, ongoing pain, tissue necrosis, nerve damage, and even death.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of plastic or cosmetic surgical care, then contact a top-rated, skilled Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in reviewing your potential case.

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.


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