Medico-Legal Issues: What Plastic Surgeons Should Know

Medico-Legal Issues: What Plastic Surgeons Should Know

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According to statistics, breast augmentation surgery remains to be the most common operation among surgical aesthetic procedures. There has been a record of 7,732 clinical surgeries for the year 2016 alone.

New York City breast augmentation and other operations have seen incredible growth. As the industry booms, ethical concerns and legal issues connected with them become more apparent. While the field of medicine has numerous inferences and nuances, their legal doctrine and their written words are steeped in the law.

There are many medico-legal issues and areas of the law that hold an impact on surgical practices. Here, medico-legal issues and risks will be presented.

Negligence and Malpractice

Negligence is interpreted as a withdrawal from normal standards of medical care. It is a result of carelessness and reckless behavior.

When settling a surgical malpractice case, it’s important to verify the validity of the claim. A worsened conditions and a failing health do not always mean that there has been surgical negligence and malpractice. Plastic surgeons that leave a foreign object in the body of the patient and/or prescribed wrong medications, on the other hand, are clear-cut signs of surgical malpractice.

In order for a surgical negligence and malpractice case to be valid, there should be evidence proving that the harm inflicted is caused directly by the negligence of the surgeon. 

Informed Consent

The informed consent doctrine dictates the interactions between the patient and the surgeon before the procedure. It imposes a duty on the surgeon to completely explain the procedure and inform the patient of the risks that may come along with it.

An informed consent will only be valid if the participant or the patient is completely informed about the surgical details, has the competence to consent to it, and is not subject to undue pressure and coercion. If there is a breach of the doctrine, the surgeon will be held liable for health damages caused by the procedure.

Fraud and Abuse

As legal terms, “fraud” is defined as the intention to deceive while “abuse” is interpreted as the intention to confuse. There are some instances wherein fraud and abuse have been involved in cosmetic surgical operations. For instance, a surgeon may say that the operation is 100% safe when it actually comes with serious health risks.

When it has been proven that the surgeon committed fraud or abuse, it can create a negative impact on the malpractice case outcome. Not only that, conviction of fraud and abuse can endanger the license of the surgeon as they are considered criminal activities.

In order to prevent committing both, it is important that the surgeon ensure that his medical billing and code all conform to the treatment and operative records. Altering medical records is another form of fraud. When proven guilty of it, you’ll be subject to criminal and civil penalties.

Final Thoughts

The law is merely defining what is and what is not acceptable for plastic surgeons. Where ethical conduct fails to bind the surgeon to follow its codes, the law is mandatory.

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