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In the past decade or so, the cosmetic surgery industry has exploded. Since it’s an “elective” or non-medically necessary procedure, many plastic surgeons offer their services through commercial advertisements. Procedures have come a long way since the early days, and many new treatments have been developed – treatments that can be preformed by individuals without proper training or credentials. Because of this, cosmetic surgery is one of the most common areas for medical malpractice.
Each year, millions of Americans undergo a cosmetic procedure. It can be non-invasive like Botox and laser skin rejuvenation, or a complicated surgical procedure like breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty or tummy tucks. While many procedures are successful, there are the few but significant cases that result in serious health problems.
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Strictly speaking, plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are not identical, although most of the public uses these terms interchangeably. Plastic surgery is generally performed for traditional medical reasons – to correct a disfigured face resulting from a car accident, for example. Cosmetic surgery, by contrast, is elective, and it is generally undergone by people with no disfigurements to enhance their appearance or sexual attractiveness. Although cosmetic surgery might be classified as a subspecialty of plastic surgery, we will use these terms interchangeably for the sake of convenience.
Being qualified to practice medicine doesn’t automatically make you qualified to practice plastic surgery, any more than having a general driver’s license qualifies you to drive an 18-wheeler truck. Unfortunately, however, some plastic surgeons lack the training and experience necessary to perform highly complex operations, and the results of a mishap can be disastrous.
Although performing a plastic surgery procedure without certification from a particular certifying board – such as the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery or the American Board of Otolaryngology – is not in itself illegal, it might suggest that the doctor lacks the proper training or experience to safely perform these procedures. Of course, if your plastic surgeon lacked a license to practice medicine at all, you could pursue criminal charges in addition to a lawsuit.
Yes. Since a “mere” cosmetic defect can drastically affect your social life, your employment opportunities, and your psychological well-being, Illinois medical malpractice law treats cosmetic defects as real even if they don’t cause you physical pain or medical problems. Psychological distress is a form of noneconomic damages, and courts frequently award plaintiffs noneconomic damages in amounts far greater than economic damages such as medical expenses.
Not by itself. Even a doctor cannot absolutely guarantee satisfactory results. A successful claim requires you to show that your dissatisfaction constitutes actual harm, and that this harm resulted from the doctor’s deviation from a professional standard of care.
Yes, most of the time. Generally speaking, the mere fact that you signed a consent form will not prevent you from winning a medical malpractice claim, because Illinois law does not allow medical patients to consent to negligence. The only way that signing a consent form is likely to stand in your way would be if your claim was based on the assertion that you were not informed of the risk of, for example, a postoperative infection, and the defendant introduced a consent form with your signature on it in order to prove that you had in fact been informed of that particular risk.
In other words, if the harm that you risked actually occurred but was the result of an unavoidable risk rather than medical negligence, your chances of winning a lawsuit on this basis are slim; but if the harm that you risked was avoidable yet happened anyway due to medical negligence, the fact that you signed a consent form will not help the defendant.
There mere fact that an adverse event arising from medical treatment caused you harm is not enough by itself to establish medical malpractice. In addition to showing harm, you must prove that your plastic surgeon’s conduct failed to meet a professional standard of care, and that this failure is what actually caused the harm that you are complaining about. Whether or not your plastic surgeon met the applicable standard of care is not always obvious. Determining whether or not your claim is valid might require an investigation, and proving your claim in court might require the testimony of a medical expert who has been briefed on your case.
In medical malpractice lawsuits based on negligence, Illinois law requires the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) to obtain and submit to the court a Certificate of Merit. A Certificate of Merit is a document issued by a medical professional that certifies that the plaintiff’s claim is reasonable and has some merit. It does not, of course, provide an absolute guarantee that the claim is valid – it only certifies that the claim has a reasonable chance of success in the opinion of the medical professional who issued it. This requirement is designed to prevent dissatisfied patients from clogging court dockets with frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits.
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Mr. Kellerman of Malman Law shows compassion for his clients. Returns calls and emails promptly, takes time to listens to his clients and gather facts accordingly.
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2 years ago I was involved in a trucking accident involving a 14-wheeler truck that nearly disabled me for life. Steve fought to make sure that I received the most possible compensation for my injuries. I was about to take the insurance company’s lowball offer, but decided to call Steve first – it was the best decision I’ve made yet
NOAH TAFFELPersonal Injury Victim