Painter Law Firm filed a medical malpractice lawsuit yesterday over the post-operative care in a breast reduction surgery against a plastic surgeon who practices in Houston and The Woodlands. Harris County District Clerk assigned the case cause number 2019-27862, in the 152nd District Court, where The Hon. Robert Schaffer is the presiding judge. You can read the original petition here.
Our client saw the surgeon in his Houston office, knowing that his website claims that he’s “potentially the best plastic surgeon Houston and The Woodlands have.” She was having problems including neck, shoulder, and back pain and hand numbness, which she felt was caused by her large breasts. Five years earlier, she had breast lift with a different plastic surgeon to address similar issues.
The surgeon diagnosed her with symptomatic macromastia, which is an abnormal enlargement of breast tissue causing pain or other symptoms. He took her to surgery at Memorial Houston Surgery Center for breast reduction and liposuction of both breasts.
After the surgery, our client followed all of the instructions that the surgeon gave her and went to all of her post-operative appointments.
In between follow-up appointments, and less than a month after surgery, she became concerned and emailed the surgeon's office with her concerns.
In one email, she asked if it was normal for her breasts to still be red and feel warm, even though she had finished her antibiotics.
The next day, she emailed his office again, telling them, “They seem much worse. I think I need to go to the ER. Could this be cellulitis or a really bad deep infection. This doesn’t feel right. They are so that it really hurts now. I’m very concerned.”
She included photos of the areas of concern with both emails. Both times, the surgeon's nurse replied that everything was fine.
As part of our thorough pre-suit investigation of this case, we retained a board-certified plastic surgery medical expert to review the medical records and other materials. In our expert’s opinion, the care that the surgeon provided to our client wasn’t “potentially the best,” but rather didn’t satisfy the reasonable standard of care that all plastic surgeons are required to meet.
Our expert looked at the same emails in photos that the patient sent to the surgeon, and shared his opinion that, at that point, she already had a serious problems with her breasts, including cellulitis and open wounds.
Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that you can notice because the skin looks swollen and red and is often warm and painful to touch. Open wounds after a surgery are always concerning because they allow open access for infections to develop.
It’s important to protect the blood supply
In his report, our plastic surgery medical expert explained that, when plastic surgeons perform a combined breast reduction and liposuction operation, they must plan and document adequate blood supply to the patient’s nipple complexes. Plastic surgeons call this the pedicle design.
Patients presenting for a breast revision surgery require special attention and consideration by the plastic surgeon because their blood supply has been altered by a prior procedure. The standard of care, our expert explained, requires the plastic surgeon to obtain the prior records to be aware of the prior pedicle design, and make sure the blood supply is preserved.
According to our expert, the surgeon did none of this in our client’s case, and it set her up for a smoldering infection. Our expert believes that the surgeon’s surgical technique disrupted the patient’s blood supply to both of her nipple complexes. Of course, living tissue requires oxygen and nutrients to stay alive and function. With the loss of blood supply, her nipple tissues died, resulting in full-thickness wounds and infection, once bacteria invaded the dead (necrotic) tissue.
Infection control is a must
Our plastic surgery medical expert also criticizes the plastic surgeon for violating the standard of care by not ordering timely breast bacterial cultures once he was aware of the cellulitis and open wounds on the patient’s breasts. Instead, our expert explained, the surgeon chose to wait a whopping six weeks before ordering bacteria culture and sensitivity studies.
When the results finally came back, they were positive for a multi-organism bacterial infection, with strains including Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Serratia.
Getting the help you need
If you’ve had a bad experience with a plastic surgeon, like a prolonged post-operative infection, contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney for help.