Cosmetic Surgery Negligence Cases

When you undergo surgery, there is always the chance that something can go wrong and many people are finding out just how wrong cosmetic surgery can go, which is ironic considering it is supposed to make you look better!

The rise of cosmetic surgery negligence cases can be explained by one simple fact – more people are having it done. However, what is more worrying are the surgeons that people are going to when having their surgery. Due to the expense involved with cosmetic surgery people are putting money before their health. As a result people are not carrying out any due diligence because they want to save money and surgeons are cutting corners because they want to make money. For example, there have been some recent cases where people are using cheaper surgeons, carrying out a variety of procedures when in fact they are only trained for one. Some people even go abroad for these treatments and it is even possible to go on a package holiday where cosmetic surgery is included.

Going abroad for cosmetic surgery can be very dangerous. As well as usual issues such as language barriers, your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you if things go wrong with your cosmetic surgery and things can very easily go wrong. There have been a number of cases abroad where it has been found that surgeons are either not qualified to do the job, their practices do not have the same health and safety standards as the UK or the surgeons are simply not competent to carry out these procedures. This has resulted in a number of horror stories from utensils being left inside bodies following procedures or unconnected parts of the body being permanently damaged.

Other common blunders by surgeons both in the UK and abroad include: failing to obtain proper consent, not taking down medical history, leaving permanent scars and asymmetrical features. In these cases, if the patient has carried out their due diligence and is not to blame for the procedure then they may be entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation varies depending on the seriousness of the negligence and the long term effects, but it can be substantial. You may be surprised to learn that on average, cosmetic surgery negligence cases are more successful than medical negligence cases, particularly in cases of breast surgery, eyelid operations, facelifts, nose reductions and weight loss.

What is important is that before a patient undergoes cosmetic surgery, their doctor carries out a psychological evaluation to make sure that the patient understands what surgery they are getting and that they do not have unrealistic expectations. Duty of care and health and safety should always be put before profit making otherwise the number of cosmetic surgery negligence cases are going to continue to rise.

If you have had a cosmetic surgery procedure which has gone wrong, there are now some specialist solicitors who may be able to assist you. However, choose carefully, don’t make the same mistake twice.

Medical negligence

Medical Negligence

Medical negligence also known as clinical negligence is a form of professional negligence. It is an act or omission by a health care provider, where the treatment provided falls beneath the standard of practice expected from a professional of the medical community resulting in the patient suffering injury or even death. The act or omission is usually an error in judgment or a procedural mistake that could have reasonably been avoided. Medical negligence entitles the patient or their family to compensation, subject to loss being proven.

Examples of clinical negligence include:

  • Failure to diagnose or making the wrong diagnosis
  • Making a mistake during surgery
  • Prescribing the wrong drug
  • Failing to obtain consent before commencing treatment
  • Not warning the patient of the risks a particular treatment carries.

Legal claims in medical negligence must be made within three years from when the incident occurred or when the patient first realises they have suffered an injury. Where the patient is a child, the time limit is inapplicable and the claim can be brought by the age of 21 because the three-year time limit begins at the age of 18 when the child becomes an adult.

Proving Medical Negligence

Clinical negligence cases are complex. The simple part is demonstrating that a duty was owed. Legally a clinician owes a patient a duty of care whenever they undertake care or treat. It is the second part that is harder to establish. There are two strands to the case both of which have to proven in order for the claim to be successful.

  1. Negligence – The medical practitioner is negligent in their treatment of the patient if the care received falls beneath medically acceptable standards; and
  2. Causation – The negligence or breach of duty of care directly resulted in an injury or death.

 Negligence

To define medically acceptable standards or reasonable standard of care is a complication in itself. The nature of it is subjective and is often proven by expert witness evidence. The expert would have to have the knowledge, experience, education and training of the specific issue. The expert’s testimony is used to establish whether the treatment and care provided fell below the standard of care expected from a medical professional.

Negligence or lack of negligence by the medical practitioner can be proved using the Bolam Test. The Bolam Test, which was established in the court case of Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee, says:

  • A clinician would not have acted negligent if their course of treatment and care was in accordance with practice accepted as proper and responsible in the opinion of a responsible body of persons skilled in their specialty.
  • Therefore the standard against which one is judged is that of their fellow colleagues in the same ranking, not the best or most wisest and prudent practitioner.
  • The standard applied is of an ordinary and competent medical practitioner.

Once negligence is proven it is necessary to show that the second strand of the case also exists.

 

Causation

There are two forms of causation, which can determine whether the negligence of the practitioner resulted in the patient suffering injury or death. They are legal causation and factual causation. Sometimes for simplicity they are not distinguished in cases, however each must be demonstrated.

Legal Causation

 

Legal causation is ascertained by the test of forseeability. The question to ask is whether the consequences of the breach of standard of care were reasonable foreseeable? If they were then could steps have been taken to avoid harm? In most cases it needs to be shown that the breach of care was known and foreseeable and would have potentially been avoided had normal medical protocol and policies been followed.

Legal causation prevents claims for unrelated injuries being included in a claim for compensation. Even if legal causation is proven, the injury or death being a direct result of clinical still has to be shown. This is known as factual causation.

Factual Causation

Factual causation involves proving that the medical practitioner’s act directly caused the patient harm. It seems simple and easy to show, however in practice it is the opposite. The basic ‘but for’ test can be used to establish causation. The harm caused to the patient would not have occurred but for the negligence of the clinician. On balance therefore, if injury or death would have happened regardless of whether the practitioner was negligent or not, they cannot be held liable. Factual causation can be proven using further medical treatments, expert affidavits.