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All surgeries have their risks, and when it comes to elective surgeries, the risk versus reward calculation can get far murkier. So murky, in fact, that plastic surgeons may need to inquire about a patient's mental state before assenting to a procedure.
At least that's what one Chicago lawsuit claims, after a patient underwent several cosmetic surgeries and died due to a pulmonary embolism. The woman's estate is now suing her doctors, claiming they failed to provide proper medical care by not giving her a psychological assessment prior to the procedures. It's a strange case, but may shed some light on whether you can sue for wrongful death after a botched cosmetic surgery.
Tens of millions of Americans get plastic surgery every year, and there are bound to be some health risks associated with cosmetic surgery. As with any surgery, risks of infection, complications from anesthesia, and nerve damage are common, as well as hematoma (a collection of blood outside the blood vessels) and seratoma (a collection of blood plasma beneath the surface of the skin). If these or any other injuries occur, you may be able to sue your plastic surgeon.
Like any other doctor, plastic surgeons have a duty of care to their patients and must practice with a degree of skill, care, and diligence equal to that possessed by or expected of a reasonably competent physician under the same or similar circumstances. If a plastic surgeon fails to meet this duty, and it results in injuries, the patient could sue for medical malpractice.
If the breach of duty leads to death, the deceased's family or spouse may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are similar to medical malpractice claims, but require plaintiffs to prove (a) that the death was caused by the doctor's negligence and (b) they have suffered harm as the result of the death.
In the case referenced above, the plastic surgeons will surely argue that it was the embolism that caused the patient's death, not the lack of a psychological evaluation. Whether that argument will be persuasive in court remains to be seen.
If you've been injured during a botched cosmetic surgery procedure, contact an experienced personal injury attorney regarding your claim.