Cosmetic Surgery: Clinical Negligence Explained

What is clinical negligence?

Clinical negligence (also known as medical negligence) occurs when a doctor or other health professional breaches their duty of care to the patient, resulting in physical and/or mental harm and suffering. The patient can claim compensation for their pain and suffering, loss of amenity and other losses resulting from the breach of duty.

Cosmetic surgery ranges from the most popular – breast augmentation; to rhinoplasty (‘nose job’); botox; dermal filler; abdominoplasty (‘tummy tuck’), the rhytidectomy (‘face lift’), blepharoplasty (‘eyelid reshaping’), otoplasty, pinnaplasty (‘ear reshaping’), and liposuction to remove excess fat. Some are performed on the NHS though the majority are carried out privately.

Common consequences of clinical negligence

Clinical negligence before and during cosmetic procedures can cause a number of problems, including blood clots, problems with anaesthesia, infections resulting from poor hygiene or inadequate aftercare, nerve damage as a result of poor surgical techniques, excessive scarring, lack of warnings about the risks, and so on.

Botox and dermal filler are the most common cosmetic and non-surgical treatments in the UK today, with many patients popping into for their Botox injections during their lunch hour at work. But it can go wrong if not properly carried out, leading to potential paralysis, disfigurement, visual problems and distress.

Clinical negligence claims following cosmetic procedures

All cosmetic surgery and procedure involve a number of risks. Your cosmetic surgeon has a responsibility (a duty of care) to explain the procedures you are to undergo, and the potential risks of the procedure, so that you can give informed consent to have the work done. The cosmetic procedure itself must be carried out by the surgeon with reasonable care and skill. If there is a breach in the duty of care towards you and you suffer harm or loss, you can make a compensation claim.

In order to succeed in a clinical negligence claim following cosmetic surgery, you must prove that your cosmetic surgeon did not meet the standards expected of them. The same applies for any other cosmetic procedure and the professional who carried it out. You must be able to demonstrate, on the balance of probabilities, that you did not receive the standard of care you would have expected to receive from a reasonably competent, skilled specialist in that area, and that you suffered harm as a result.

For instance, a claimant received a substandard service during an NHS operation to target a discrepancy in the size of her breasts, resulting in severe distress.

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For more information on:

  • Breach of contract
  • The PIP scandal
  • Your legal rights
  • Cosmetic surgery negligence cases on the rise