Issue: September 2012
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Cosmetic Surgery Gone Wrong: High Hopes Meet Unexpected Results

Introduction

Cosmetic Surgery Liability

Almost 9.2 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in this country in 2011. The overall number of cosmetic procedures has increased 197 percent since 1997. With this increase in popularity has come an increase in the number of injuries from cosmetic procedures.

 

Civil lawsuits involving cosmetic surgery injuries have multiplied and include medical malpractice and negligence, lack of informed consent, breach of contract or breach of warranty, and products liability.

 

It is critical for attorneys to understand the medical standard of care in this area and for physicians, insurers, and employers to learn strategies on potential malpractice liability.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to recover for a cosmetic surgery injury?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for a cosmetic surgery injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy for a cosmetic surgery injury be avoided by proof that the physician performing the procedure was not negligent or there was no coverage for cosmetic surgery injuries? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s cosmetic surgery injury?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Counsel must develop a list of facts and circumstances, specific to the client’s fact situation, which demonstrates proof of negligence or malpractice involving cosmetic surgery.

Physicians:

Physicians must consider this litigation checklist when defending an alleged medical malpractice or negligence claim arising from an injury related to the cosmetic surgery procedure or treatment.

Insurers:

When investigating a claim of cosmetic surgery negligence, the insurer should carefully evaluate the actions of the health provider. The insurer should look for the following “red flags” and consider how they impact the insurance coverage and the liability for payouts.

Employers:

Employers and their risk managers are concerned with preventing absenteeism and the ability of their employees to work effectively. Not all injuries are work related, however. The following should be considered when determining if the employee’s cosmetic surgery injury is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment,” and therefore is compensable.

Expert Analysis

Why Is Advertising a Unique Liability for Plastic Surgeons?

Robert H. Aicher, J.D.

Why Is It Important To Investigate a Cosmetic Surgeon's Qualifications and How Can This Be Accomplished?

Malcolm Z. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons to Go to Trial

Reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what have been the settlements recently in cosmetic surgery malpractice cases?



Medical Examples

Medical: Cosmetic Surgery Patient Considerations, Procedures, and Complications.

This section provides detailed medical information on cosmetic surgery procedures and treatments, the complications that can arise, and patient considerations such as body dysmorphic disorder.



Law and Medicine Resources

References

A listing of law and medical references for further information on cosmetic surgery liability.


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Cosmetic Surgery Gone Wrong: High Hopes Meet Unexpected Results

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Robert H. Aicher, J.D.
   Malcolm Z. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons to Go to Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Medical: Cosmetic Surgery Patient Considerations, Procedures, and Complications.

References