Canadian regulations do not require plastic or cosmetic surgery doctors in Canada to have specialist training. Clinics often employ doctors who are specialists in other practice areas of medicine, for example, general practitioners, dermatologists, ear nose and throat specialists, or ophthalmologists. An unspecialized or unqualified doctor may not fully understand the serious complications that can arise during plastic or cosmetic procedures. Due to the inadequacy of these regulations, there is an increased risk for medical errors in Canada.
Over 50,000 Canadians undergo plastic surgery procedures every year. Of those people, there are thousands of patients who feel as though their surgery was “botched” or the outcome did not meet their expectations. Others may have suffered serious or life-threatening health consequences resulting from a plastic or cosmetic surgery that was performed incorrectly.
At Valent Legal, we understand that plastic and cosmetic surgeries are just as risky as other medical procedures. If you, or someone you know, has suffered a serious injury because of a plastic or cosmetic surgical procedure, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. A plastic surgery malpractice lawyer can help you navigate the complex regulatory system involved in these types of personal injury claims in Canada.
What is Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice?
Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are often referred to collectively; however, they have two slightly different meanings. Cosmetic surgery is a type of plastic surgery that is typically considered an elective surgery (optional). It involves corrections and is less invasive procedures than those commonly considered “surgical”. Plastic surgery deals with reconstructive procedures to the skin or flesh, like repairing serious burns.
The following are some common types of cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery:
- Rhinoplasty or nose re-shaping
- Botox treatment
- Lip augmentation
- Skin resurfacing
- Facial scar revision
- Face lifts
- Blepharoplasty or eyelid surgery
- Breast augmentation
- Breast implants
- Breast reconstruction
- Breast reduction
- Liposuction or tummy tucks
- Gastric band and bariatric surgery
- Otoplasty or ear pinning/correction
- Laser surgery
- Laser hair removal
- Hair replacement
- Cool body sculpting
- Mentoplasty or chin surgery
- Skin grafts
- Reconstructive surgery used to correct birth defects
- Reconstructive surgery to repair damage caused by accidents
Plastic surgery malpractice cases involve patients who undergo cosmetic surgery and are harmed during or after the procedure. You may have a medical malpractice case if you were injured because a healthcare professional failed to meet the accepted standards of care in performing a medical procedure. While a perfect outcome is never a guarantee, the results should not fall below reasonable medical standards and expectations.
Cosmetic or plastic surgery malpractice is a type of medical malpractice. To be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must show that the plastic surgeon was negligent in providing a treatment or surgical procedure. This means that you must be able to prove that the party (or parties) who performed the cosmetic procedure on you do so in a manner that falls below the appropriate standard of care for a reasonably skilled cosmetic surgeon.
Types of Cosmetic Surgery Medical Malpractice
A patient must be fully informed of all the relevant risks or possible outcomes of a cosmetic surgery prior to providing their consent. This is referred to as informed consent. Cosmetic surgery patients will typically sign a consent form before the surgery. At this time, it is critical that the physician discuss the procedure with you and ensure that you have a full understanding of potential risks before you agree and sign.
Signing a consent form does not mean that you cannot sue your cosmetic or plastic surgeon. It simply means that you have an understanding of the risks to a surgery that exist outside of medical malpractice. A patient may be entitled to make a claim if a procedure is performed without the provider obtaining informed consent, or by exceeding the scope of a patient’s informed consent.
Other types of cosmetic or plastic surgery malpractice include:
- Wrong-site surgery
- Anesthesia errors
- Medication errors
- Surgical errors
- Performing the incorrect procedure
- Performing a procedure in the wrong area
- Performing procedures in private offices, unequipped to deal with complications
- Postoperative negligence
- Performing procedures without proper equipment or supplies
Causes of Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice
Standard of care refers to the degree of caution that is required of a plastic surgeon who owes a duty of care to their patients. The standard of care will depend on the circumstances of the patient and the procedure. Any healthcare provider performing medical treatment can be held liable for cosmetic surgery malpractice, whether that be a surgeon, a nurse, and an anesthesiologist.
Some common causes of plastic surgery malpractice follow:
- Failure to obtain a complete medical history
- Insufficient qualification, training, or experience
- Incomplete or rushed exams
- Failure to monitor vital signs
- Failure to respond to a surgical complication
- Operating without a patient’s consent
- Failure to diagnose or refer to a specialist
- Failure to provide adequate post-operative care
- Failure to take a full patient history
In some cases, multiple parties can be liable for harming a patient during plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery. As many plastic surgery procedures are performed in surgical centers or hospitals, the facility may be responsible for injuries on behalf of, or in addition to, its employees.
Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Injuries
There are certain risks associated with cosmetic surgeries that are common and would not qualify as medical malpractice. These are risks are not dependent on the provision of cosmetic treatment or procedure. In other words, your doctor is not able to reduce the likelihood of these risks from happening. Some examples of known risks associated with plastic surgery include blood clots or delayed healing.
Failed cosmetic surgery is considered to be medical malpractice when the care is substandard and directly causes physical, psychological, or emotional harm to the patient. If the harm could have been avoided, the negligent actions or inactions or a surgeon could likely be the cause.
Common cosmetic surgery malpractice injuries include:
- Nerve damage
- Post-operative infections
- Sudden dropping or caving of the surgical site
- Skin irregularity
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Fluid buildup under the skin
- Excessive bleeding
- Heart attack
- Post-operative hemorrhage
- Organ perforation
- Foreign objects left behind during surgery
- Contamination from blood transfusions
- Pulmonary embolism
- Wrongful death
If you, or someone you know, received substandard cosmetic or plastic surgery, a medical malpractice attorney can help determine the success of your claim for a negligent surgical error.
Proving Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Claims
There is an increasing number of cosmetic surgeries taking place in Canada. This increase will be reflected by a rising number of cosmetic surgery malpractice cases, and settlements for harm and injuries caused by the medical negligence of plastic or cosmetic surgeons (or other healthcare providers). To successfully bring a claim for cosmetic surgery malpractice, you must file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years. The two years limitation period will begin to run at the time that you knew all of the necessary facts required to bring a claim against the party responsible for your injuries.
Once you file the lawsuit, your case will depend on four factors. These factors must all be proven for a cosmetic surgery malpractice claim to be successful.
Duty of Care
You (the Plaintiff) must show there was a doctor-patient, or nurse-patient, relationship between you and the healthcare provider (the Defendant) performing the treatment or cosmetic procedure. This relationship establishes the duty of care owed by the medical professional.
Breach of Duty
The standard of care is the accepted level of reasonable care that is expected to be met by a medical surgeon performing cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures. If the surgeon delivers care that is inferior compared to a plastic or cosmetic surgeon with similar skills in the same circumstances, then the doctor breached their duty of care.
There must be proof of a link between the harm or health effects that you experienced practitioner’s substandard medical treatment. A cosmetic plastic surgery lawyer will use testimony from medical experts in the same field of practice to establish the causal link between medical negligence and your injuries.
Damages are a legal term for the payment you can recover if you suffered harm, loss, or injury because of the substandard medical treatment.
Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Compensation
A successful plaintiff of a cosmetic or plastic surgery malpractice lawsuit is entitled to compensation that will depend on the nature of the injury and the extent of the damages that they have suffered. Higher compensation awards are granted where injuries are more severe and have a long-term impact. Higher compensation is also awarded for cases where there is a greater financial impact on a person’s life, especially in terms of their ability to earn income.
Types of damages that you can sue for in a cosmetic surgery malpractice case include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Psychological harm
- Lost wages
- Ability to earn future income
- Medical expenses
- Cost of future treatment
- Loss of homecare services
Cosmetic or plastic surgery malpractice cases are unique and complex. They require a lawyer who is experienced in this field to gather expert witnesses, review medical documents, and negotiate a settlement.
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to cosmetic surgery malpractice, book a free consultation to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer at Valent Legal today. Our team of compassionate personal injury lawyers will listen to your experience, evaluate your case, and help guide you through the legal process.