NeuwirthLawCase Matters, For Lawyers, Medical Malpractice

From the movie Brazil, directed by Terry Gilliam

I think it is probably a good idea to avoid having plastic surgery with a surgeon whose spouse is on the Real Housewives series. Several of these docs are getting pummeled with malpractice lawsuit filings. While the filing of your typical case has no bearing on whether the case will ultimately prevail, I think the opposite is true in medical malpractice. No lawyer would file a med mal case unless there was clear malpractice and a clear path to success. This is because you need a Certificate of Merit in PA and similar letters in other states that essentially reveals that your case has merit in the eyes of a doctor with the same specialty. This sort of substantial proof of merit is not required in many lawsuits. Further, these cases demand a really close evaluation of costs and benefits. We do not take cases that do not have six figure or seven figure potential. A doctor doing something wrong or below the standard of care is simply not enough to make a case.  Even the raft of allegations in the lawsuits against the real housewife spouses who are doctors are often not about the actual performance technique.

Why is that? Well, in reviewing a bunch of medical malpractice cases against Dr. Lenny Hochstein and others in that universe, most of the claims involve a failure to respond to post-surgical complications. What this reveals is what most malpractice lawyers recognize. In a cosmetic surgery case, it is not wise to fight over how the procedure turned out or how your nose looked after the procedure. There is no guarantee of results in these cases and much of the result may be surgically successful, but unappealing to the patient. Rather, cosmetic surgery patients have complications from surgery like all other patients and those must be attended to. So, patients who develop fevers, infection, wound healing problems etc. need urgent medical attention. If you as a doctor fail to have systems set up to provide that attention and too much time passes, your patient may decompensate and things go downhill quickly. So, you could see that if you are a real housewife spouse and a surgeon and a patient has surgical complications, then it would not be too hard to argue that perhaps you were busy with your wife’s spending, shooting scenes, or doing other non-doctoring type things and hence ignored the patient.  That is more of a case than your typical plastic surgery case.

Finally, there is always an element of you asked for it in these elective surgery cases. It is strictly off-limits in court, but you must expect jurors to think that none of this would have happened if you had just been happy with how you were etc. It is unavoidable and frankly an element that has to be investigated and considered in these plastics cases.