Posted on 3 Sep 2013

Cosmetic Surgery – Considering Litigation?

In an article prepared for the Aesthetika clinic, Michelmores' Oliver Thorne advises on the process of making a claim against a cosmetic surgeon.

Medical Negligence Solicitors - Oliver ThorneCosmetic surgery is a rapidly growing market. This means that more procedures are being performed, which in turn leads to a higher number of procedures going wrong. There is also huge competition, and pressure on surgeons and clinics to provide surgery or treatments cheaper than their competitors. In order to provide these 'cut-price' procedures, corners are often cut which can lead to devastating consequences for patients.   

Generally the quality of care received from UK plastic surgeons is very good, but from time to time incidents do arise. We regularly receive complaints from patients who are not happy with the surgery they have undergone.  If this has happened to you, then keep reading and hopefully you will know what you need to do next.

  1. Firstly you should make a complaint, in writing, to the surgeon or the clinic/company that arranged your treatment. The letter does not need to be detailed, but should be succinct. Ensure you mark it as a complaint. If you are unsure about how much detail to include, speak to a Lawyer at this stage.
  2. For some patients an apology is sufficient, however, if you have incurred financial losses and a period of pain and suffering, you should consult a Lawyer who deals with medical negligence cases. Cosmetic surgery claims are often difficult, and it is important to ensure the firm you instruct is familiar with these types of claims and has a history of dealing with such cases.
  3. Your Lawyer is likely to ask you to obtain your medical records from the surgeon/clinic that performed your surgery.  You have a legal right to see copies of your medical records, unless very unusual circumstances apply. A charge can be made to reflect their duplication costs, but the fee must be reasonable, and must not exceed £50.
  4. It is important that you make a written record of the events relating to your treatment/surgery, such as what you were told, what happened, and who you saw.
  5. Timescale - It is important to note that cases must be progressed and court proceedings issued within 3 years of the date of the treatment/surgery. The courts can apply their discretion in certain cases, and this is something your Lawyer should discuss with you. Most medical negligence claims can take anywhere between 12 months and 3 years to conclude. Claims where liability is accepted by the other side at an early stage are likely to settle sooner than those that are defended.
  6. Funding - There are various ways to fund a medical negligence claim. Unfortunately, Legal Aid is no longer available for cosmetic surgery claims. Many people have insurance that would fund a claim for medical negligence, but do not realise they have it. Insurance products are also added on to home insurance policies, bank accounts, credit cards and bank loans. It is important to check these. If you are a member of a Trade Union, you may also be covered by your membership.

CFAs, or 'no win no fee' agreements, are becoming an increasingly common way to fund medical negligence claims. All of the above options should be discussed when you first speak to your lawyer

It is important that, at an early stage, your Lawyer looks into whether or not your surgeon/clinic is insured for medical negligence claims, and who it is you should be suing. A lot of clinics act as intermediaries, introducing patients to surgeons, and often it is the surgeon that holds the insurance. If the surgeon or clinic is not insured, you may not be able to recover any compensation or the costs incurred in pursuing your claim.

Michelmores have a dedicated team that deals solely with medical negligence claims. We have lawyers who possess in-depth knowledge of a wide variety of cosmetic surgery procedures, and have a proven track record of winning these cases. If you have concerns with the treatment you have received, you should contact us on 01392 688 688.