Medical professionals always have the best intentions when performing procedures, yet human physiology can be unpredictable. Even the most experienced doctors can make mistakes. Plastic surgeons are no exception, and it would suit you to insure against common plastic surgery malpractice cases.

The most common types of plastic surgery malpractice cases involve issues with patient communication, incorrect assessment or diagnosis of a medical condition, inadequate post-operative care, or improper use of anesthesia. That’s why we advise you to have malpractice insurance for plastic surgeons.

At Professional Insurance Plans, we specialize in insuring healthcare professionals against potential malpractice claims. The industry has encountered countless cases, and we’ve identified some common trends.

Read on as this post explores the most common plastic surgery malpractice cases and explains why they’re such a risk for plastic surgeons.

Understanding Plastic Surgery Malpractice

Plastic surgery malpractice refers to instances where a plastic surgeon or healthcare professional in the field fails to provide the standard of care expected in their profession, ultimately harming the patient. 

It involves negligent actions, errors, or omissions that deviate from the accepted medical standards and can lead to various adverse outcomes.

The implications of plastic surgery malpractice can be significant for patients and healthcare professionals.

Patient’s Repercussions

  • Physical and emotional pain
  • Disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Life-threatening complications

These outcomes can have long-lasting effects on their quality of life, self-esteem, and overall well-being.

Healthcare Professionals’ Repercussions

Healthcare professionals in plastic surgery malpractice cases may face legal and professional consequences. They could be subject to the following:

  • Lawsuits.
  • Damage to their reputation.
  • Loss of professional license.
  • Financial liabilities resulting from legal settlements or judgments.

Additionally, their professional standing and credibility within the medical community may be negatively affected.

The Importance of Malpractice Insurance for Plastic Surgeons

Given the severe repercussions of plastic surgery malpractice, healthcare professionals in this field should have malpractice insurance to protect themselves from liability claims and other financial losses.

Malpractice insurance shields you against financial obligations resulting from a medical error or mistake during surgery. It covers your defense costs and any awarded damages if you’re found liable for malpractice.

It also provides financial compensation for damages awarded to the patient, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Disability

Common Types of Plastic Surgery Malpractice Cases

A. Botched Surgical Procedures

Surgical errors during plastic surgery can lead to adverse outcomes for patients. These errors may include:

  • Mistakes in the planning or execution of the surgery.
  • Improper technique.
  • Inadequate pre-operative assessment.
  • Failure to recognize and address complications during or after the procedure.

Examples of common surgical errors in plastic surgery include:

1. Incorrect Incisions 

Surgeons may make incisions in the wrong location or make larger or smaller incisions than necessary, resulting in unsightly scars or asymmetry.

2. Improper Implant Placement

Placing breast implants too high, too low, or in the wrong position can lead to an unnatural appearance, discomfort, or complications like implant malposition or capsular contracture.

3. Inadequate Wound Closure

Poor suturing techniques or failure to properly close incisions can result in wound dehiscence (reopening), increased risk of infection, and delayed or poor wound healing.

Botched surgical procedures can have various consequences and complications, such as:

  • Disfigurement or deformity
  • Infection
  • Hematoma or seroma
  • Nerve damage
  • Revision surgery

B. Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia-related mistakes are another common cause of malpractice cases in plastic surgery. These errors can occur during administration, dosage calculation, or anesthesia monitoring.

The risks associated with anesthesia errors include:

  • Uncontrolled pain due to inadequate dosage.
  • Respiratory distress caused by over-sedation or inappropriate drug combinations.
  • Failure to monitor vital signs leads to medical complications.

The potential dangers of anesthesia errors can include the following:

  • Brain damage.
  • Stroke.
  • Coma.
  • Death, in extreme cases.

Inadequate Patient Screening and Informed Consent

Plastic surgeons should conduct comprehensive patient screening before proceeding with any procedure. Thorough screening before plastic surgery procedures is crucial to assess the patient’s suitability for surgery and identify potential risks or contraindications. 

It involves a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s:

  • Medical history.
  • Current health status.
  • Medications.
  • Allergies.
  • Lifestyle factors that may increase the risk of complications.

Obtaining informed consent is essential to ensure patients clearly understand the procedure, its risks, benefits, alternatives, and expected outcomes.

The written consent form should provide detailed information about the surgery, including potential complications, side effects, and recovery.

Failure to obtain informed consent can result in patients undergoing procedures without fully understanding the risks involved, leading to dissatisfaction, harm, and potential legal implications.

It’s wrong to perform surgery on patients not mentally or emotionally prepared for the procedure, leading to dissatisfaction, psychological distress, or unrealistic expectations.

The same applies to neglecting to inform patients about alternative treatment options that may be safer or more suitable for their unique needs.

C. Post-operative Care Negligence

Monitoring patients during recovery is crucial to identify and manage potential complications early.

Proper post-operative care is essential to:

  • Monitor patients’ progress.
  • Manage pain.
  • Prevent infections.
  • Address any complications that may arise.

Inadequate post-operative care can result in complications, delayed recovery, or worsened outcomes for plastic surgery patients. 

Examples of Post-Operative Care Negligence In Plastic Surgery Cases:

  • Failing to provide clear post-operative instructions regarding wound care, medication administration, and activity restrictions.
  • Inadequate monitoring of patients delays the recognition of complications like seromas or hematomas.
  • Neglecting to address and treat post-operative complications promptly.
  • Insufficient pain management
  • Lack of appropriate follow-up care and failure to address patient concerns or provide necessary revisions.

These examples are not exhaustive; plastic surgery malpractice cases can vary in specific circumstances and outcomes. 

Always evaluate each case individually to determine the presence of malpractice and the resulting consequences for the patient.

Preventing Plastic Surgery Malpractice

Plastic surgery malpractice cases can have serious consequences, so preventing such scenarios is essential. Healthcare professionals in plastic surgery should prioritize patient safety when performing procedures.

Here are some practical tips to prevent malpractice cases:

  • Verify all patient information before each procedure.
  • Ensure you’re performing the correct method, on the right patient, with the proper technique.
  • Take the time to explain the procedure, risks, and alternatives to patients.
  • Obtain informed consent from all patients before proceeding with surgery.
  • Monitor patients closely during and after procedures.
  • Provide clear post-operative instructions regarding wound care, medications, activity restrictions, etc.
  • Perform regular quality assurance reviews.
  • Ensure all staff are adequately trained and current on the latest technologies.

Insure Your Staff Against Plastic Surgery Negligence Cases

Protecting your practice and staff from potential risks and liabilities is essential when providing plastic surgery services. Investing in comprehensive medical malpractice insurance allows you to confidently offer the highest standard of care without worrying about costly lawsuits.

Medical malpractice policies typically cover legal defense costs and settlement payments if negligence claims are proven against your practice or staff. A tailored approach can provide maximum coverage to protect your practice against all plastic surgery negligence risks.

Don’t just work with general insurance companies when Professional Insurance Plans specialize in malpractice insurance catering to the needs of plastic surgeons and other healthcare professionals.