Mrs J decided that she wanted a nose job back in 2010.
After much research she went to a private hospital for a consultation and was assigned to a cosmetic surgeon who held practicing privileges at the hospital. This means that the surgeon was not employed directly by the hospital and instead worked on an independent, self-employed basis.
Mrs J underwent the open rhinoplasty in August 2010. Prior to the operation she was asked to sign a form which proposed to exclude liability for an extensive array of possible complications. However, it is important to note that merely getting a patient to sign a form, and briefly discussing the possible risks and complications with them does, not absolve a practitioner from performing negligent surgery.
After the operation, Mrs J immediately noticed that her operation had gone wrong, with her nose appearing asymmetrical and lopsided. Not only that, but she developed difficulty breathing and suffered from rhinosinusitis, an infection in the nostrils. However, her concerns were dismissed by the surgeon, who put her symptoms down to simple post-operative swelling. In response, he decided to carry out 5 steroid injections in just 13 months. Our expert described this number of injections as excessive and speculated that the surgeon either did not fully understand reasonable post-operative management or more likely was trying to cover up his use of poor surgical techniques.
Our expert also made clear that the operation itself fell below the required standard of care of a reasonable surgeon and as such was negligent. The sutures were inserted both too low and too tightly to be seen as adequate. This breach of a reasonable standard of care has caused numerous physical, including difficulties breathing and infections. However, it was the psychological impact that was most profound, with our client deeply unhappy about the way she looked following the surgery. She has subsequently had to finance her own revision surgery in 2012 at considerable expense, although happily she has now resolved most of her symptoms.
In terms of proving negligence, this case was relatively straightforward, with both the surgery and post-operative treatment described as negligent by our experts and clearly the cause of our client’s loss.
However, it transpired that the same surgeon had been involved with numerous negligence cases across the country, working out of a number of different hospitals. Disputes for compensation are ongoing, with the surgeon himself going bankrupt and his liability cover apparently ineffective outside of Italy.
This medical negligence claim highlights the importance of thorough research into a health provider’s background. When it comes to private healthcare, particularly where cosmetic surgery is concerned, finding an experienced and well recommended professional is vital. However, we understand this is not always possible to do and it is often difficult for patients not to put their faith in supposedly qualified and experienced practitioners.