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Cosmetic Surgery Gone Wrong

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who said she went in to have cosmetic surgery. They removed some fat tissue from around her abdomen, and it was supposed to be a simple tummy tuck. But, the wound became seriously infected, leading to extensive hospitalization and permanent scarring. She wanted to know her legal options.

Most cosmetic surgery is what is called elective surgery.

In other words, it’s not a surgery that is required for functional or health reasons. Instead, it is a surgery that the patient chooses to do for self-improvement.

With elective procedures, the medical professional is required to obtain the patient’s informed consent to proceed.

Informed consent should include a listing of all of the risks associated with the particular procedure. If those risks are not described or explained, the consent is not what the law calls informed consent.

Just like any other surgery, there are risks associated with elective surgery.

Those marketing cosmetic surgery tend to downplay those risks. The marketing materials often show people smiling and happy after a procedure. These marketing materials often convince those inquiring about the procedure to proceed with surgery.

In checking with this caller, it was evident that infection was one of the risks spelled out in papers signed before the procedure. The caller also indicated that the doctor verbally said infection would be a risk.

But, just because you, the patient, suffer an injury on the list of described risks, does that mean you don’t have a case?

No. Not at all.

It does not mean that you are precluded from bringing a case. It just means the analysis of what happened during the procedure may be more complex than with other types of injury claims.

You see, if everything is done correctly during a procedure, there still may be a risk of infection, and that risk may be 1 in 1000.

But what if the surgeon fails to sterilize the instruments used in surgery.

That failure could raise the risk of infection to 1 in 25. Or, perhaps make infection a near certainty.

Just because a risk is listed on a consent form, and you suffer a complication on the risk list, you are not automatically foreclosed from pursuing a case.

The attorney will need to review the medical records before, during, and after surgery to answer the caller’s question. The circumstances of the surgery will need to be reviewed in careful detail. Moreover, an expert consultant may need to be hired to analyze the records and determine if malpractice occurred.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”