News & Insights: Healthcare

Growth in Cosmetic Surgery Claims – Common Pitfalls

29 October 2019

An article, recently published on the BBC website, highlights some extremely distressing experiences for patients when undergoing cosmetic surgery, often at private healthcare providers and performed by surgeons flown in from outside of the UK or Ireland.

Cosmetic Surgery is generally classed as elective medical treatment. That means it is not treatment that is clinically required, rather it is surgery that a patient has chosen to undergo for other reasons. When undergoing any surgery, it is of course essential that the patient fully understands the procedure to be performed and reasons for it. For elective treatments, it is perhaps even more important as the surgery is generally not clinically required.

The article referred to above highlights some common pitfalls in respect of cosmetic treatments in the UK. These include the following:

Lack of Continuity of Care

Often the surgery is performed by surgeons who are flown in and out of the UK / Ireland specifically to perform the surgery. They may not have met the patient until the day of the surgery, which is less than satisfactory in terms of the consent process. Moreover, if complications arise or if the patient has any issues post-operatively, the surgeon who performed the surgery is often unavailable.

Inadequate Regulation

The Royal College of Surgeons indicate that the regulation of cosmetic treatments in the UK is weak. To perform cosmetic surgery in the UK, the surgeon needs only to be a doctor, not necessarily specifically trained in respect of the cosmetic treatment. This can represent a risk to patients if the surgeon is not adequately skilled to perform the procedure.

Insurance Issues

Doctors providing treatment outside of the NHS are generally insured to provide such treatment on a private basis. From a practical perspective, this means that if negligent treatment is provided which results in a patient obtaining compensation against the doctor, the insurer will be able to pay the compensation awarded. Too often it would appear in cosmetic treatments that the surgeons involved have no, or inadequate, insurance cover. This can result in patients obtaining judgements against the doctor but having significant difficulty actually obtaining the compensation money they deserve. Such doctors can simply return to their home country, where it can be extremely difficult to enforce any Order against them.

If you or a loved one are considering cosmetic surgery, it is absolutely essential that you are fully informed in terms of the risks and complications associated with the treatment, so that you can make an informed decision whether or not to proceed. If you do proceed, it is recommended you ensure that the doctor providing the treatment is suitably qualified and insured to do so.

If you or a loved one have suffered injury as a result of cosmetic surgery, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Healthcare Team.

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