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
I have been practicing cosmetic surgery and general dermatology for over 25 years. During that time, I have seen many doctors who have been sued. One cosmetic surgery in particular just could not get it right and ended up being sued and was in court probably over 20 times. Finally, the Australian Medical Practitioner’s Board did arrange with that doctor that they would stop practicing. One of the reasons that doctors can get sued is that they do not relate well to the patient, that the patient does not understand what they are having done, and that the doctor may be just that too aggressive and trying to get too good of a result which unfortunately can lead to very bad results as well. Other doctors were sued just from bad luck. Patients sometimes have unrealistic expectations or for some reason, get into their mind that the doctor has done them a disservice. Some patients have body dysmorphia which means that they are being unrealistic about what they can expect.
I remember an unfortunate plastic surgeon who got sued and was called to court for a breast reduction mammoplasty surgery. The surgery went wrong and unfortunately the patient lost skin which is called skin necrosis. With any large cutting surgery, this is always a risk because the skin is made into a flap and the blood supply to the flap can be compromised. For this reason, Dr. Lanzer prefers to do breast reduction with liposuction alone. This case never got to court and they did settle out of court which is always a nice way to go. The unfortunate part is that the doctor or the medical defense paid the patient, but the doctor did not get the patient to sign a confidentiality. The patient then went on to discuss the case on national television which I believe was most unfair.
Another interesting case was a colleague of mine who started a patient on Roaccutane. Roaccutane is a tablet for acne and can affect the health of a baby during pregnancy. The patient was on a contraceptive pill but took a course of antibiotics at the same time. Antibiotics can rarely reduce the effectiveness of contraception if you are on a contraceptive pill. The doctor did not warn the patient of this and as a result, the patient got pregnant and had to have an induced abortion. The patient sued the doctor in the Australian courts. The matter was settled.
Being sued can be extremely distressful. I know that the surgeon took this very personally. A doctor tries their best to help patients and that is the oath that all doctors take. When something goes wrong, it is very troublesome for the doctor if a patient is upset and does sue them.