Do patients have any recourse if they think the results are not what they expected or not what was promised? Patients can file a malpractice lawsuit if the physician made medical errors, but what can be done if the patient just doesn’t like the results?
An increasing number of people are undergoing cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in an effort to improve their appearance. These procedures can be painful and expensive, and they are usually not paid for by insurance.
Do patients have any recourse if they think the results are not what they expected or not what was promised?
Patients can file a malpractice lawsuit if the physician made medical errors, but what can be done if the patient just doesn’t like the results?
One of the difficulties is beauty is in the eyes of the beholder; thus, there may be differing opinions concerning whether or not the results are good or bad. The plastic surgeon may think the results are technically excellent. However, the patient isn't that interested in how difficult the procedure was but how good the final product looks.
A recent article discussed the best ways to determine the outcomes of cosmetic plastic surgery. Questionnaires were developed to obtain the views of the patients who underwent various procedures.
It was determined that the most accurate way to determine the outcome requires input from both patients and physicians. But is it always that difficult to determine if the results are good or bad?
For example, Mrs. Jones wants to get rid of her many wrinkles. A photograph of the wrinkles are taken before and after the procedure. Although she was told she would have about an 80 percent improvement, unfortunately, there was only about a 25 percent improvement.
Should she have to pay for surgery that did not accomplish what she not only anticipated but was also told would take place?
The doctor agrees more needs to be done. Should the patient have to pay for the second procedure? And what about the discomfort the patient experienced and the time involved?
Frequently, in this situation, the patient pays for the first procedure but pays less for the second procedure. Is this fair? It doesn't sound right to me.
It is important that, prior to surgery, the doctor explains in great detail what can and cannot be accomplished. Also, the doctor should discuss with the patient the plan if the patient's realistic expectations are not met.
But when it comes to wrinkles, you don't need any fancy scientific studies to determine that too many wrinkles are still there after surgery.
Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.