Patty was a vibrant single woman in her early 40’s who wanted to improve her appearance. She sought the care of a plastic surgeon for abdominal liposuction and breast modification. During the liposuction procedure, the doctor allowed an instrument to make contact with her abdomen, causing a 3rd degree burn below her naval. Unfortunately, despite extensive treatment by her doctor, the burning resulted in significant scarring near her naval.
The Doctor’s Mistake Leads to More Surgery
Patty was unhappy with the scarring. The doctor’s efforts to improve or revise it were unsuccessful. The treatment he recommended was a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty. The doctor suggested not only would it remove the scar, but it would eliminate some persistent accumulation of fat in her lower midriff. She and the doctor had several conferences on how the surgery would be performed and the location of the surgical incision. Patty understood he would be doing a traditional tummy tuck through an incision from the left to the right hip below the navel. The surgery would remove the scar and small pocket of abdominal fat. The incision was to be placed low enough to be concealed by a two-piece bathing suit. Patty agreed to the surgery and it was scheduled.
The Doctor Leaves Horrible Disfiguring Scars
To her shock and amazement, when Patty awoke from surgery she found the doctor had made the incision from below her left shoulder blade, through her flank, beneath her naval, and around her right flank to beneath her right shoulder blade in the back. The incisions were extremely apparent and were not in a position to be concealed by traditional two-piece swimwear. Not only would she suffer the pain from the excessive incision, Patty would have to deal with the disfiguring scars as well. How could this have occurred?
When she tearfully protested to the surgeon that the incisions were nowhere near where they had discussed, he agreed to do some revisions to try to minimize the appearance of the red and inflamed surgical scars. Despite his efforts and her diligence in applying topical ointments to minimize the scarring, she was left with permanent and disfiguring scars.
Patty Hires Jim Dodson
Patty sought the help of Clearwater medical malpractice attorney Jim Dodson. Jim had a professional photographer document the extent of her scarring. He consulted with a Board Certified plastic surgeon in Atlanta with years of experience in abdominoplasty surgery. It was his opinion that Patty’s plastic surgeon had violated the acceptable standard of care in performing the surgery in that he had not only extended the incision much too far, but had placed it incorrectly to accomplish the purpose of the surgery. After examining Patty, the expert believed her scar would be permanent. As a result, Patty sued her plastic surgeon.
Settlement efforts were unsuccessful and it was necessary to try Patty’s case against her plastic surgeon in a multi-day jury trial. As in virtually all malpractice cases, the defense found a well-qualified expert who testified that her plastic surgeon had, in fact, met the standard of care he owed to her wrong.
Patty’s plastic surgeon, of course, testified there was never an agreement to limit Patty’s surgical scars from hip to hip, and that Patty was told clearly before the surgery exactly where the scars were to be placed and that he had marked them on Patty’s body with a marker during their pre- surgical meeting. Patty contradicted the doctor’s testimony and suggested to the jury no person, particularly a woman, would ever voluntarily agree to have such scars on her body.
The Jury Awards Patty $1.2 Million
Despite the best efforts of the defendant doctor, the defense expert plastic surgeon, and the defense lawyers, Jim successfully convinced the jury that Patty’s expert and her testimony were more compelling and believable. They returned a verdict for Patty of $1.2 million against the plastic surgeon.
Although the jury awarded Patty the compensation they felt was required in order to make her whole, she still must live with the scar on her body which was left by the surgeon’s mistakes. Patty was thankful for the result Jim was able to accomplish for her and for the jury who believed her and held the doctor responsible for what he had done.
Proving Medical Malpractice
There are always risks in any medical procedure, that is why you are asked to sign consent forms. It’s important to realize that your surgeon or medical practitioner is not always responsible for adverse results stemming from your procedure. To have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent.
In order to prove a medical malpractice case you must have a witness, an expert in the medical field or retlated area, that is willing to testify on your behalf. Without one there is no chance of trying, let alone winning, your case.
There is a huge misconception regarding the precieved “winning” of a medical malpractice claim. A physician or surgeon is not going to simply settle in order to keep the case from going to court. Accusations of medical malpractice can ruin a medical care practitioner’s reputation and career. They will be more than willing to go to court in order to protect their themselves and definitely don’t take medical malpractice accusations lightly. If you don’t have a claim of negligence that can be proven you simply don’t have a medical malpractice claim.
Do You Think You May Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe you may have a Florida medical malpractice claim you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, in order to comply with Florida’s pre-suit investigation requirements, and the strict time limits involved. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888-207-0905 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Even if we are unable to take on your case, we always do our best to suggest other attorneys who can assist you.
It’s important to keep in mind, in order to have a solid medical malpractice claim your doctor or surgeon must have been negligent in performing their services or diagnosis. Not every case will qualify as medical malpractice.