Malpractice Claims Involving Breast Implants

A look at common errors and complications with breast implant procedures, and when a surgeon might be liable in a lawsuit.

The occurrence of breast implant mistakes and medical malpractice claims arising from breast implant surgery has risen dramatically in the last 20 years. Elective cosmetic surgery is more common than ever, and breast augmentation is one of the most popular procedures performed today. The elective nature of breast implant surgery does not provide immunity from medical malpractice, though it does add some barriers. Read on to learn more about breast implant mistakes and medical malpractice.

Types of Breast Implant Surgery

There are two main reasons women chose to have breast implants. The first is directly related to the rise in reconstruction of the breasts post-mastectomy, a procedure that has become fairly commonplace. Breast cancer survivors often want their bodies to look the same as they did pre-mastectomy, and breast augmentation provides an opportunity to regain a bit of what was lost to cancer.

The second main reason is aesthetics. Women of all walks of life and social backgrounds now choose to have breast implant surgery simply to alter their physical appearance. Elective cosmetic surgery, in general, has become far more commonplace than it once was, and developments in medicine in the last twenty years have made most cosmetic surgeries -- including breast implant surgery -- more affordable and less medically risky (but not without risk.)

Claims of Medical Malpractice

The proliferation of elective cosmetic surgery has resulted in an influx of money into the industry. Breast implant surgery is a multi-million dollar industry. Unfortunately, the breast implant boom has created an opportunity for less than reputable physicians to "get rich quick" by performing breast implant surgery without the proper training, equipment or experience. As a result, breast implant mistakes and medical malpractice cases have increased dramatically.

Common Mistakes Related to Breast Implants

There are several common types of breast implant mistakes that can lead to a viable medical malpractice case.

Wrong Type of Implants

Use of the wrong -- or outdated -- type of implant is something that, unfortunately, happens on a regular basis. Fly-by-night plastic surgeons seeking to cut corners and take advantage of patients have been known to use expired, banned or even homemade implants on women instead of approve and regulated implants. This can result in infection and numerous other problems for women, all of which can be painful and in some cases life-threatening.

Poor Screening of Candidate

Improper screening of patients can lead to breast implant mistakes and medical malpractice cases. Cosmetic surgeons have a duty to appropriately screen their patients and make a decision as to whether the prospective patient is a good candidate for breast implant surgery. If a woman who is a poor candidate makes it through the screening process, any resulting complications arising from breast implant surgery could be the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Procedural Negligence

Other common types of breast implant mistakes and medical malpractice cases include improper placement, improper creation of the pocket in which the implant is placed, and the use of a breast implant that is too large for the recipient. Add to these all of the common surgical malpractice issues -- lack of sterilization, leaving a foreign object in the body, and injuries caused by simple negligence or poor technique -- and there are innumerable potential causes of action related to breast implant surgery.

Any Legal Claim Requires Actual Harm

A key factor in any medical malpractice case stemming from cosmetic surgery will be proof that the patient suffered actual harm. Remember that it's not enough to show that a patient was left with a less-than-favorable outcome. You need to show that the cosmetic surgeon provided treatment that feel below the appropriate medical standard of care, and that the patient was suffered damages as a result of that negligent treatment.

Damages usually include the cost of corrective surgery, medical expenses associated with the error, lost income, mental anguish, and pain and suffering - among others.

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