30-32 Glenferrie Rd
Malvern VIC 3144
3/276 Pitt Street, Sydney
New South Wales 2000
11 Hayling St, Salisbury
Brisbane QLD 4107
1/863 Wellington St,
West Perth 6005
We consult & operate Australia-wide
One of the natural fears of any doctor throughout the world is that a patient will become upset and take legal action in the courts or sue the doctor. In Australia, the law that allows a patient to sue or take the surgeon or doctor to court has changed. A patient must be able to demonstrate a significant more long term injury. The legal system has reported that because of this, the number of cases against doctors has fallen dramatically as somebody needs to have something quite serious such as loss of a limb. Obstetricians still remain the area that has the most court cases and significant amounts of money. People having children, still expect that the child should be born normal and it is certainly very distressing when things go wrong because it can leave lifelong consequences to a minor. Many obstetricians have stopped practicing delivery of babies for this reason. It is also noted that their medical defense insurance is so high because they end up in court so often. Other areas of surgery that have a high legal rate are neurosurgeons and general surgeons. One of the ways to prevent legal action is to have good information beforehand. This involves good consent forms and lots of information. Dr. Lanzer’s general protocol is aimed at safety and patient information. This therefore means that his patients are well informed. Included in this is that Dr. Lanzer has all cosmetic surgery patients speak to a psychologist. He insists on a referral from the doctor if the patient has any psychological issues, the patient must speak to the clinic and the doctors on more than one occasion, speak to the nurse, receive detailed consent forms, have a period of time to consider the surgery, and be warned of all the main possible risks no matter how rare they are.
Experience plays a major role in preventing doctors ending up in court or being sued. A doctor who is experienced can relieve patients’ fears and can really explain based on thousands of patients what can happen and what can go wrong. He also has experience on how to treat things when things aren’t perfect.
Of course, all patients need to be aware that surgery is not an exact science. A doctor, no matter how good he is, can never give an absolute guarantee of anything. The only thing he can do is his best effort and use the methods that have worked for him in the past. There are more major surgeries such as breast lifts, deep face lifts, brow lifts, and deep tummy tucks that have significantly more risks than less invasive procedures which are done though keyhole. Those risks definitely need the attention of a qualified surgeon and will often be done in a hospital.
Sometimes, a doctor may end up in court because he has missed a diagnosis. Sometimes this happens when a doctor misses a melanoma or a cancer. Of course, the last doctor to see a patient is always the cleverest doctor and he has the hindsight extra information. I recall one very good dermatologic surgeon who got sued because he did a small test spot with the laser. I thought that he was very conservative and wanted to make sure the skin would heal well so he did not treat the laser on the whole face, but just one spot. Unfortunately for that cosmetic surgery the skin in that one spot went brown and the patient was very upset with the doctor and sued him. Fortunately, doctors do not commonly find themselves in court or sued in Australia and it is not in the same situation as it is in America where the legal system is quite rampant against the doctors.