QLD Botched Plastic Surgery - Personal Injury Claim for Medical Negligence?

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Louise Q

9 April 2014
I had plastic surgery just over 7 months ago on my nose (rhinoplasty). Unfortunately, the results of the surgery are not good. My nostrils are lopsided, my nose looks much wider than before just above the nostrils and I now can't breathe through my nose at all. I went back to my plastic surgeon and raised these problems, but his got very defensive and said 'well that's the best I could do'.

I consulted an ENT specialist about my breathing problems and he said I'll need to get septoplasty as I have a severe deviated septum. When I asked him if it could have been caused by or should have been diagnosed by my surgeon when I had my rhinoplasty, he said that could be the case but was hesitant to say anything to get the plastic surgeon in trouble. I believe my plastic surgeon has really stuffed up. I'm so traumatised by the experience-its hard for me to even think about corrective surgery for my breathing for fear something else will go wrong and I don't want people to see my face anymore.

How do I prove a personal injury claim for medical negligence?

Joanne A

9 April 2014
Sorry to hear about your experiences with that plastic surgeon. Medical negligence is a complex area and its often difficult to prove a medical negligence claim.

You may be able to take legal action if there has been a failure to:
- Treat a your condition or refer you to a specialist as soon as possible.
- Perform a medical procedure with reasonable care and skill.
- Advise you of the risks associated.
- Provide adequate post-operative care.

More than just a simply mistake, you need to prove that the treatment fell below the standard of care reasonably expected from a surgeon. So the surgeon would have had to have acted in a way that is not considered to be acceptable in the opinion of a large number of respected plastic surgeons.

Medical negligence laws vary between the different Australian states, but generally, you need to prove three elements to make a medical negligence compensation claim:
1. The doctor's treatment did not meet Australian standards.
2. The poor treatment resulted in suffering or injury.
3. The physical or psychological harm was a direct result of the negligence.

There are strict thresholds that set out how severe/significant your injury must be before you can make a claim.

A good personal injury lawyer who specialises in medical negligence might be able to help get you compensation. Your claim could include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Care and help provided by friends or family.
- Past and future medical expenses, such as surgery.
Compensation amounts are calculated based on the harm and/or loss suffered not the degree of negligence.

Given the complexity of medical negligence law, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer about you specific circumstances.