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An Expert Guide To: Medical Malpractice

The importance of understanding the potential risks of cosmetic surgery, including medical malpractice, cannot be overstated. Medical malpractice - often referred to as 'clinical negligence' or 'medical negligence' - occurs when a healthcare professional deviates from the standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. In the context of cosmetic surgery, where the expectations for safety and success are high, understanding medical malpractice is essential for understanding what to do if you are subject to it.

For individuals considering cosmetic surgery or those who have already undergone a procedure, recognising the signs of medical malpractice is the first step toward safeguarding their wellbeing and legal rights. Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors is dedicated to providing comprehensive guidance and support to those navigating these complex situations. In the following guide, we explain what medical malpractice is, how to identify it, and what to do if you find yourself dealing with it.

Understanding medical malpractice

Medical malpractice in the context of cosmetic surgery is a failure by healthcare professionals to provide the standard of care that is expected of them, which results in harm to the patient.

Key elements of medical malpractice include:

  1. Duty of care: in the UK, there are legal standards that hold healthcare professionals to a duty of care. This means they are legally obligated to provide care that meets established medical standards, and not cause further harm to their patients.

  2. Breach of duty: a breach occurs when the healthcare professional fails to meet the standard of care. In cosmetic surgery, this could be an error during the procedure, providing incorrect post-operative advice, or failing to recognise complications.

  3. Causation: for medical malpractice to be properly identified in law, there must be a direct link between the breach of duty and the harm suffered. The patient must demonstrate that the injury or adverse outcome directly resulted from the healthcare professional’s negligence.

  4. Damage: to make a medical malpractice claim, the patient must have suffered harm as a result of the breach and be able to prove it. This can include physical injury, psychological trauma, additional medical costs, loss of earnings, or other impacts on their life.

Understanding these key elements provides a framework for recognising when a standard of care has not been met and what might constitute a viable compensation claim.

Common types of medical malpractice in cosmetic surgery

Medical malpractice in cosmetic surgery can take various forms. Here are some prevalent examples:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: this occurs when a medical professional fails to correctly diagnose a condition or unnecessarily delays the diagnosis. In cosmetic surgery, this might involve not recognising postoperative complications promptly, leading to worsened outcomes.

  • Surgical errors: these are mistakes that occur during the surgery itself. They can include using poor technique, making inappropriate incisions or causing unintended damage to surrounding tissues. In cosmetic surgery, even a small error can significantly impact the patient's appearance and health.

  • Post-operative negligence: failing to provide adequate post-operative care can lead to severe infections and other complications. This might include not offering proper wound care instructions, failing to recognise signs of infection, or not providing timely treatment when complications arise.

  • Lack of informed consent: patients have the right to be informed about the potential risks and outcomes of their procedures. If a healthcare professional fails to provide all the necessary information for a patient to make an informed decision, and the patient suffers harm as a result, this can be a form of medical malpractice.

Understanding these common types of medical malpractice can help individuals identify when they might have a valid medical negligence claim.

Identifying medical malpractice

The signs of medical malpractice are also varied and are circumstantial, but identifying them early can help to make sure patients get the care they need early, avoiding more severe complications that can arise if the symptoms are left untreated.

While all surgeries carry risk, unexpected or severe complications may indicate a problem. If your results significantly deviate from what was discussed, or you experience unusual pain, overswelling, excessive scarring, asymmetry or other unexpected issues, it may be a sign of malpractice. If your condition fails to improve as expected, or worsens following the procedure, you should speak to your surgeon or GP as soon as possible.

If the information you receive from your healthcare provider post-surgery contradicts what was discussed prior or seems to downplay your concerns, it is worth further investigation. Demand more from your surgeon, or consult your GP or an independent medical professional for advice.

If you believe you have experienced medical malpractice, document everything related to your case, including symptoms, communications with healthcare providers, and the impact on your daily life. Consulting with a solicitor specialising in medical malpractice, particularly in cosmetic surgery, can provide clarity on whether you have a viable claim and the next steps to take.

By being vigilant and informed, individuals can better understand their situation and make informed decisions about the next steps.

The medical negligence claims process

If you suspect you have been treated with medical negligence and have experienced losses because of it, you should consider making a medical negligence claim. Doing so can help you to recover funds for the physical, psychological and financial impacts the negligent treatment has had on you and your life.

Every medical negligence claim is unique, but here is a general guide to the key elements of the process:

  1. Seeking legal advice: before making any decisions that might carry legal weight, you should consult a solicitor specialising in medical malpractice, particularly one who specialises in cosmetic surgery. They can offer a preliminary assessment of your case and advise on the likelihood of a successful claim.

  2. Gathering evidence: your solicitor will help gather detailed evidence to support your claim. This includes medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony. The evidence must demonstrate that the healthcare provider's negligence directly caused your harm. Your solicitor will also help you to compile any evidence you have already collected, such as photos and journal entries.

  3. Establishing negligence: to prove negligence, you must show that the care provided fell below the standard expected of a competent professional and that this failure directly caused your injury or harm. You will likely need an expert testimony from an independent medical professional. The medical report that is generated as a result of this will play a vital role in establishing the impacts of the negligence and its cause.

  4. Filing the claim: once enough evidence is gathered, your solicitor will file a claim against the healthcare provider or their employer. The defendant will then have an opportunity to respond, either accepting liability or contesting the claim.

  5. Negotiations and settlement: many medical malpractice claims are settled out of court. Your solicitor will negotiate with the defendant's representatives to reach a compensation settlement that reflects the harm you have suffered.

  6. Court proceedings: in the rare case a settlement cannot be reached in negotiations, the case may go to court. A judge will then hear the evidence and make a decision. Court proceedings can be lengthy and complex, so most solicitors strive to settle claims before reaching this stage.

  7. Settlement: once a settlement has been reached, your solicitor will hold the other party to account, making sure they meet their obligations to pay you the compensation that you deserve.

Navigating the legal process for medical malpractice claims can be complex, but it does not need to be. A specialist clinical negligence claims solicitor can help you by explaining your situation and options, and guiding you through the entire process of making a claim.

What to expect when making a medical negligence claim

Your solicitor will handle the legal complexities of your medical negligence claim, advising you on the best course of action, and communicating with the defendant's representatives on your behalf. After the initial consultation, your solicitor will conduct a thorough investigation. Your solicitor can also advise you on any interim support you might need, such as medical care or financial assistance, while the claim is ongoing.

The outcome of a medical malpractice claim can vary. It may result in a settlement where the defendant agrees to pay compensation without going to court, or it may proceed to a trial if a settlement can't be reached. Your solicitor will prepare you for all possible scenarios.

In some cases, if the defendant acknowledges liability, you might receive interim payments to cover immediate medical costs or loss of earnings before the final settlement is reached. This can provide much-needed relief during the legal process.

The length of time a claim takes varies widely depending on the complexity of the case, the defendant's response, and whether a settlement is reached. Some cases resolve in a few months, while others might take several years. Your solicitor will provide a more specific timeframe based on the details of your case.

Entering a medical malpractice claim is a significant step towards seeking justice and compensation for the harm suffered. While it can be a lengthy and emotional process, having a clear understanding of what to expect and the support of a specialised solicitor can make the journey more manageable.

Compensation for medical negligence claims

Estimating the amount of compensation you may be able to claim for medical negligence is impossible due to the wide range of factors that impact it. Instead, we have explained how compensation is typically calculated so you can understand what aspects of your circumstances you may be able to claim for.

Typically, compensation for medical negligence is divided into two categories:

  • General damages cover the pain, suffering, and loss of amenity resulting from the negligence. This includes physical pain, emotional distress, and the impact on your quality of life. Generally, you can expect more severe injuries and symptoms to warrant higher compensation amounts.

  • Special damages are awarded to cover the financial losses incurred as a result of the negligence. This can include past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings, travel costs to medical appointments, and the cost of any care or assistance required. To claim special damages, you must provide records of your spending.

Your solicitor will use guidelines provided by judicial authorities, coupled with evidence from medical experts and details of your financial losses, to calculate an appropriate figure for your compensation amount.

Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors offer 'no win, no fee' agreements for all our claims, meaning you will not have to pay our legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful. This can provide peace of mind and financial security while pursuing a claim.

Compensation in medical malpractice cases is designed to restore you, as much as possible, to the position you would have been in had the negligence not occurred. It is not just about financial recompense; compensation is about acknowledging the wrong that was done and providing a measure of justice for what mistreated patients have endured.

Preventing and avoiding medical malpractice

While not all instances of medical malpractice can be prevented by patients, being proactive and informed can significantly reduce the risk. Here are some steps you can take to minimise the likelihood of being subject to medical malpractice when undergoing cosmetic surgery:

  1. Research the procedure and provider: before undergoing any cosmetic surgery, thoroughly research the procedure and potential risks involved. Equally important is researching the credentials, qualifications, and reputation of the healthcare provider and facility. Look for specialists in the specific procedure you're considering and check their registration with relevant medical councils.

  2. Seek multiple opinions: seek second or even third opinions, especially if you have concerns or if the procedure is particularly complex or risky. Different perspectives can provide a more comprehensive understanding of what to expect and the potential risks involved.

  3. Ensure clear communication: ensure you understand all aspects of the procedure, the potential risks, and the expected recovery process. You should ask questions or express concerns. A good provider should be willing to discuss these openly and provide clear, understandable answers. If they fail to do this, this may be a red flag.

  4. Understand informed consent: informed consent is a legal and ethical requirement. Ensure you are given all the necessary information to make an educated decision about your care. You should be aware of the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives to the proposed treatment.

  5. Follow pre- and post-operative instructions: if you are unsure about any instructions or if something does not seem right, seek clarification immediately.

  6. Stay alert to changes: after your procedure, be vigilant about monitoring your recovery. If something seems wrong, or if you experience unexpected symptoms, seek medical advice.

  7. Record keeping: keep detailed records of all consultations, procedures and follow-up appointments. This information can be invaluable if there are any disputes about the care you received.

Preventing medical malpractice is a shared responsibility between healthcare providers and patients. By taking an active role in your healthcare, asking questions, and making informed decisions, you can help ensure a safer, more positive cosmetic surgery experience, for yourself and potentially for others.

Seek legal advice

Understanding medical malpractice is critical for anyone considering or who has undergone cosmetic surgery. It is not just about being aware of what can go wrong, but also knowing your rights and the steps to take if you believe you've been a victim of negligent care.

If you are concerned about the care you have received, or if you are considering cosmetic surgery and want to ensure your rights are protected, Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors is here to help. We specialise in providing expert legal advice and support in medical malpractice cases, particularly in the field of cosmetic surgery. Our dedicated team understands the complexities of these cases and the significant impact they can have on your life.

We are committed to guiding you through the legal process with empathy and professionalism, aiming to secure the compensation you deserve to aid in your recovery and future wellbeing. With our expertise, you can have peace of mind knowing that your case is in capable hands.

To learn more, simply call us today on 0808 296 3266, or fill out an online contact form and we will be in touch at a time suitable for you.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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