A rhinoplasty procedure is a type of plastic surgery to change the shape or size of a person’s nose. Commonly known as a “nose job,” the procedure alters the way the nose looks and functions. One of the more common reasons for rhinoplasty is to change the appearance for cosmetic purposes. In some cases people undergo a rhinoplasty procedure to improve their breathing. For many people the benefits are both functional and cosmetic.
A rhinoplasty procedure that is performed incorrectly can harm a person physically, mentally, or emotionally. Rhinoplasty malpractice is when the surgeon does not perform according to the accepted standard of care for a medical professional in that specialty. As a result of the surgeon’s negligence, the patient is injured.
A “botched rhinoplasty” or more simply, a bad nose job, may include rhinoplasty malpractice, however simply being displeased with the results of a rhinoplasty does not mean there was malpractice. For there to be malpractice, a medical professional must have failed to act as a reasonably competent surgeon would have acted under the same or substantially similar circumstances.
A reasonably competent surgeon is one with the same training or credentials, or one within the same specialty. In the case of rhinoplasty malpractice, the question is how would a reasonable competent plastic or cosmetic surgeon have acted.
Is Nose Surgery Dangerous?
As with most surgeries, rhinoplasty or nose job surgery can be risky. Some of the risks associated with a rhinoplasty procedure include:
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Difficulty breathing
- Numbness around the nose
- Pain that persists long after surgery
- Septal perforation (a hole in the septum)
- In addition to the risk to your health, the results of the procedure may also fail to meet your expectations.
Elements in a Malpractice Claim Involving Rhinoplasty
A plaintiff in a rhinoplasty malpractice case has to prove the following elements to prevail in court:
- The surgeon and the plaintiff had a doctor-patient relationship and therefore the surgeon owed the plaintiff a duty to perform according to the accepted standard of care.
- The surgeon breached the duty they owed the patient a duty to perform as a competent surgeon would perform under the same circumstances.
- The surgeon’s breach of their duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- The surgeon’s failure to meet the standard of care caused the plaintiff physical, psychological/emotional, or financial harm.
A plaintiff who can prove all of the elements may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages to compensate them for their injuries.
How is Breach Determined in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
A crucial element to a medical malpractice cause is proving that the doctor breached a duty of care that they owed to the plaintiff. The plaintiff must demonstrate that they had a relationship with the surgeon (the defendant) and that the surgeon’s actions fell short of the accepted standard of care for a medical professional in their specialty.
Establishing the existence of a relationship between the surgeon and the plaintiff can be done a few ways:
- The patient’s own medical records.
- Billing statements from the surgeon.
- Testimony or an admission from the surgeon that they treated the plaintiff.
Once a relationship has been established the plaintiff must prove that the surgeon breached their duty to act as a competent surgeon would have acted treating a similar patient undergoing the same surgery. Evidence to support the breach element includes:
- Testimony or sworn statements from witnesses or observers.
- The patient’s medical records, both from before the surgery and after.
- Photos or videos of the surgery.
- Expert testimony from another cosmetic surgeon with similar experience who can inform the court of how the surgery should have been done.
What are Some Types of Medical Malpractice Involving Rhinoplasty?
The following injuries are commonly associated with botched rhinoplasty procedures and form the basis of medical malpractice claims. These complications often require additional follow-up medical care or procedures:
- Reaction to anesthesia that could have been prevented by the surgeon taking a more thorough report of the patient’s medical history. For example the patient had an allergy to the anesthesia used that the doctor should have known about.
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Nerve damage
- Septal perforation
- Nasal valve collapse
- Nasal stenosis
- Rocker deformity
- Step off deformity
- Excessive bleeding
Cosmetic surgery that does not result in the appearance that you anticipated is generally not considered medical malpractice. In some cases a severe cosmetic issue resulting from a rhinoplasty could be cause for a lawsuit if it causes significant psychological harm.
Can I Sue My Plastic Surgeon for Bad Rhinoplasty?
The most common defendant in a lawsuit for a bad rhinoplasty is the surgeon who performed the surgery. Nurses, anesthesiologists, or other healthcare professionals may also be sued if they acted negligently when caring for the patient.
If the surgeon is an employee of the hospital or surgical center where the procedure was done, the hospital may also be a defendant. However, in most cases doctors are independent contractors who are not employed by the hospitals where they perform surgery. They have surgical privileges that allow them to use the facility, but are not employed by the hospital. Therefore the hospital is generally not liable for malpractice by the doctors who work there as independent contractors.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer about Rhinoplasty Malpractice?
Every rhinoplasty procedure carries some degree of risk. Certain risks are known ahead of time and patients have the opportunity to review those risks and give their informed consent to proceed with the surgery. However, some patients are harmed because of their surgeon’s negligence and failure to perform according to the standard of care for their medical specialty.
If you are the victim of a botched nose job, a rhinoplasty malpractice attorney can review your case and advise you of the best course of action. They can help you gather evidence and negotiate with the surgeon and their lawyer. If you have been damaged by a rhinoplasty procedure, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer for assistance with your case.