With Christmas only a week away it is inevitable that some gifts people receive will be for cosmetic surgery procedures (nothing wrong with that!) so I thought I’d publish some helpful information on your rights.

Having elective cosmetic surgery is not a decision that should be taken likely. Some candidates are rightly concerned about negative side effects that may occur as a result of the procedure. Most surgeons get candidates to sign something before the procedure to try to absolve themselves of any liability if the procedure goes wrong. However, signing this piece of paper does not always mean that you do not have any rights to make a claim.

Medical Standards

Any medical practitioner who operates in the United Kingdom is required to meet minimum medical standards. This legislation covers cosmetic surgeons, as well as doctors and nurses who carry out necessary medical treatments. Cosmetic surgeons and cosmetic opticians are also covered by their own industry standards which are designed to ensure that patients receive adequate treatment from qualified professionals. If licensed surgeons or practitioners fail to meet these standards, then they can put patients at risk. Alternatively, practitioners may be breaking the law if they are carrying out procedures without the correct licence.

If it can be proven that negative side effects from cosmetic surgery occurred because the practitioners were failing to meet minimum hygiene standards, then this will override any waivers that were signed before the surgery.   The existence of a waiver does not permit surgeons to take unnecessary risks with their patient’s lives. Hygiene is particularly important in cases where an item is being implanted into a patient. It can be very hard to clear an infection if the implant itself is the source of the infection. In addition to the removal of the implant itself, medical doctors may have to remove excess tissue from the patient to try to clear the infection. If the patient survives the infection, they could be left with severe scarring.

The Consent Form

Patients may also be entitled to make a claim for compensation from their cosmetic surgeon if they are able to show that the risks of the surgery were not adequately explained to them before they submitted to the procedure. In order to sign a consent form, patients must be able to understand the content of the consent form that they are being asked to sign. If the content of a contract is written in such a way that it cannot be easily understood by the signatory party, then this can void the contract. Alternatively, it may also be possible to show that the risks were not adequately explained to the patient outside of the contract. Examples of successful cases include; instances where it was shown that the surgeon encouraged patients not to read the waiver as it was “just a formality”; and instances where surgeons downplayed the risks of the procedure or failed to mention increased risk to that particular patient.

Cosmetic surgeons also have a responsibility to refuse their procedures to people who would be deemed to be in a very high risk group. These are the people who are most likely to suffer serious side effects during the procedure. If it can be shown that a surgeon performed a procedure on a patient, even though the surgeon was aware of the increased risk to the patient, then it would be possible to overrule the content of the waiver.

If a cosmetic surgery procedure goes wrong, it may not be the surgeon themselves who is ultimately liable. In recent years, there have been a number of high profile cases where the fault lay with the manufacturers of the implants which were being used. If it is discovered that a faulty product has put you at risk during a cosmetic surgery procedure, then it may be possible to sue the manufacturer rather than surgeon who did the work. In cases like this, patients will often need to undergo a second procedure to remove the faulty implants. Any subsequent corrective surgeries should be covered as part of a compensation claim.

If you have suffered extreme negative side effects as a result of cosmetic surgery, you should not feel like you are bound by a waiver signed before the procedure. Get in contact with a personal injuries lawyer or a claims advisor to see if you might be eligible to make an appropriate claim for compensation.