Cosmetic surgery negligence claims
Making the decision to undergo cosmetic surgery is a very personal choice and one where you expect a reasonable standard of care from your medical professional. Cosmetic procedures have become increasingly accessible with just shy of 15,500 taking place in the UK, in 2021.
While many patients are happy with their treatment, sometimes procedures can go wrong.
If it can be demonstrated that you have suffered a physical or psychological injury that resulted from negligent cosmetic surgery, then you may be entitled to compensation.
Can complications with cosmetic surgery be considered medical negligence
Whenever we need medical advice, we trust the doctors and nurses who treat us to do so responsibly. Even though cosmetic surgery is often elective, the medical professionals responsible for the procedures still owe their patients a duty of care. When a cosmetic surgeon fails to fulfil their duty of care, and this leads to complications that cause harm to their patient, they may be considered to have been negligent.
Can compensation be claimed for cosmetic surgery?
You may be able to make a compensation claim for injuries sustained as a result of a cosmetic surgery procedure if it can be proven that the medical professional responsible for your care was at fault and if the injury could have been avoided. If these aspects can be supported with evidence, and your injuries have caused you pain and suffering, then your claim will be made up of two parts:
General Damages: compensation awarded for pain, suffering and/or loss of amenity as a result of your injury; and
Special Damages: a financial award to compensate you for your out-of-pocket expenses such as travel, medical or care costs, and loss of earnings, which you have suffered as a result of the negligence.
How much compensation you may be entitled to depends on the individual circumstances of your case.
What would be considered negligence in cosmetic surgery claims?
Regardless of the type of cosmetic surgery procedure you underwent, if it can be shown that your injury resulted from medical negligence, then you may be entitled to make a compensation claim.
A number of questions are often considered to ascertain whether medical negligence occurred or not. These will include whether you, as the patient, were fully informed about the potential risks of the treatment and whether most other medical practitioners would have chosen the same course of action in the same circumstances.
Lack of information pertaining to the risks of surgery
In 2015, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in the Montgomery vs. Lanarkshire Health Board case led to a change in the law governing consent and providing risk-related information to patients. As a result, doctors must inform their patients of all material risks relating to their treatment. Poorly explained risks, inadequate written information about the procedures, or providing the patient with insufficient time to digest the information and reflect upon their decision, may be deemed negligent.
The use of incorrect equipment or dirty equipment to perform surgery may lead to infection or scarring. A medical practitioner who fails to use proper equipment for the cosmetic surgery procedure may be considered to have breached their duty of care to their patient.
Similarly, if the cosmetic surgeon uses faulty or expired products, this may lead to unexpected side effects from the procedure. If the surgeon also did not adequately complete a risk assessment or safety checks, this may compound the issue and again, be considered medical negligence.
Failures in aftercare
Your medical practitioner has a responsibility to provide you with adequate aftercare following a cosmetic procedure. This ensures that patients know who to contact if they experience any complications after their treatment. A lack of suitable aftercare can lead to avoidable issues.
Standard of treatment
Medical professionals should provide you with an acceptable standard of treatment. This means that the majority of medical professionals should make the same decisions, given the circumstances are the same. While in practice it is not as straightforward as it sounds, it does mean that your doctor should consider your previous medical history, be aware of any drugs you may be allergic to and work within their limits.
Where a medical practitioner has strayed outside of standard treatment practices, they may be considered to have been negligent.
Common injuries in cosmetic surgery
A cosmetic surgery claim for compensation can be made if an injury has been sustained from any kind of procedure, whether it is breast surgery, laser skin resurfacing or a tummy tuck. There are infinite ways that an injury may occur because of cosmetic surgery, but some of the more common injuries include:
- Physical scarring
- An allergic reaction to a product or medication or
- Psychological issues, such as anxiety or depression.
Can I still claim if I signed a consent form?
It is a common misconception that you cannot make a compensation claim if you have signed a consent form, even if something goes wrong.
If the surgeon or practitioner has not provided you with all the information about material risks relating to the procedure, or he or she has fallen below the expected standards, then they may be considered to have been negligent. In this situation, you may still be entitled to make a medical negligence claim, even if you have signed a consent form.
Is there a time limit for claims?
Like other medical negligence claims, there is a fixed time limit within which you can make a claim if you have suffered from a negligent cosmetic surgery procedure. The general rule is that you will have three years from the date of the accident/injury, or from when you knew or ought to have known that you suffered an injury as a result of an act or omission of the Defendant.
The clock typically starts counting from the day you received your treatment, but if your injuries were not diagnosed until later, then the three-year time limit may begin from the date you were diagnosed.
Can I make a claim if the surgery took place abroad?
Where cosmetic surgery took place overseas, it can be more difficult to bring a successful claim for clinical negligence. Regulations and standards pertaining to cosmetic surgery practices can vary greatly between countries, which can make it tricky to navigate your rights.
Nonetheless, you may still be entitled to bring a claim for medical negligence for cosmetic surgery that took place abroad. A medical negligence solicitor should be your first port of call. Get advice as early as possible to allow sufficient time to investigate and gather evidence within any stipulated time limits.
A cosmetic surgery procedure that has gone wrong can be very distressing. It is important to ensure that you are fairly compensated to help you and your family cope. Our experienced team of medical negligence lawyers can support you through every step of the way to ensure you get the outcome you deserve. Get in touch with one of our friendly team today to learn more.
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Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Joseph Norton who is an Associate Director and Head of Compensation