Board-Certified Plastic Surgery Expert Witness = Successful Litigation

TASA ID: 11869

A 2017 study by Therattil et al. has revealed that those engaging in plastic surgery lawsuits are more likely to win their case if they hire a board-certified plastic surgery expert witness. It also revealed a growing number of lawsuits and that defendants have a greater success rate than plaintiffs.

Who did the study?

The study, entitled “An Analysis of Malpractice Litigation and Expert Witnesses in Plastic Surgery” was conducted by five authors: Paul J. Therattil, MD, Stella Chung, BA, Aditya Sood, MD, MBA, Mark S. Granick, MD, and Edward S. Lee, MD. It was published in the Open Access Journal of Plastic Surgery.

How was the study conducted?

The team reviewed legal cases from the Westlaw legal research database, collecting all information regarding cases involving plastic surgery malpractice litigation. After removing duplicates, a total of 93 cases were included in the study. The cases were then coded according to categories such as year, whether the ruling was in favor of the defendant or plaintiff, and whether expert medical testimony was provided, among others.

What were the findings?

The study yielded several interesting findings:

  1. The number of plastic surgery lawsuits is rising
    Per the authors:
    “The rate of malpractice litigation continues to increase yearly. Plastic surgeons are at especially high risk of facing malpractice claims, with recent studies demonstrating that the proportion of plastic surgeons facing malpractice claims each year is 13%.”
    (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5638964/)

    It should be noted that this is the third highest with only neurosurgeons and cardiovascular surgeons being more likely to be sued.
  2. Defendants were more likely to win
    Out of the 93 cases reviewed, 61 ruled in favor of the defendant, 22 in favor of the plaintiff, and 10 resulted in settlement.
  3. The average settlement for plaintiffs was over $1,000,000
    In the 22 cases where the ruling was in favor of the plaintiff, the mean award was $1,036,469. The lowest award was $10,697 and the highest was $4,500,000.
  4. The most litigious states (in terms of plastic surgery cases) were California and New York
    Almost 27% of the cases were filed in California, 18% in New York, and 7.5% in Massachusetts. Florida was further down the list with 5.4% of cases.
  5. The majority of cases were about breast augmentation
    Over a third of all cases were about breast augmentation. In second place was liposuction (18.3%), then body contouring (14%), then facial rejuvenation (11.8%).
  6. The higher the h-index of the plastic surgeon expert witness, the greater the chance of winning
    Interestingly, defendants were more likely to engage plastic surgeons with higher h-indices. This perhaps explains that the defendants won more cases than the plaintiffs. H-index refers to the frequency and impact of an author’s publications. In other words, the higher the quality, and frequency, of publications by the plastic surgeon, the higher the chance of winning the case.
  7. Board-Certification makes a difference 
    The study also found that the defense was more likely to contract with plastic surgery expert witnesses who were board-certified (82.9%), whereas plaintiffs were less likely to do so (64.7%). In other words, it seems that engaging with a board-certified plastic surgery expert witness coincides with a great chance of winning the case.

What are the implications?

To summarize, it seems that, to increase the chances of winning a plastic surgery lawsuit, it is best to engage a board-certified plastic surgery expert witness.

About the Author

This expert (TASA ID: 11869), has been rendering professional expert witness and plastic surgery services in Miami, Florida for more than 20 years.

This expert witness, plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He earned his medical degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Graduating with special honors, he also served as Chief Resident in plastic surgery at the Louisiana State University. He is a noted author of numerous articles and chapters on various aspects of plastic surgery. Currently, the expert is chief of plastic surgery at Mercy Hospital in Miami, Florida.

TASA Article Disclaimer

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA and the author (TASA ID: 11869). Contact marketing@tasanet.com for any questions.

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Tasa ID11869

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