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Category Archives: malpractice

My Legal Settlement

Earlier today I received the following email from a regular reader here at the blog. For personal reasons, the reader has asked that they be kept anonymous.

Maria,

In your blog, you said you signed papers with your doctor not to name them.  Did you have a settlement?  Did you have the option not to settle, instead spread their name all over? Or did an attorney advice you about libel or defamation?

If you can comment without naming the doctor, much appreciated.

I have written before about how I tried to deal with the legal ramifications of what happened to me. I also wrote about the settlement that currently binds me from mentioning the name of the surgeon. HOWEVER, before I agreed to the settlement that prohibits me and my “agents” from mentioning the surgeon’s name, I wrote a few posts. Those are listed below in my response to the reader’s questions.

Dear Reader;

I am, unfortunately, also bound from talking about the terms of the settlement as well. I DID have the option not to settle. At that point I was deeply clinically depressed and traumatized. I didn’t want that person to have anything to do with my medical care any more. I would start shaking every time I had an appointment. I just wanted it to be over with so I went with the first available way out.

People keep telling me that I’m brave. This is one of those instances where I was not. I DID put up a synopsis of what happened on the Complaints Board [Editor’s Note: This post has been edited on advice from my lawyer.Please visit the link for details]

I never spoke to a lawyer about defamation, but I was a journalist so I know that once I signed those papers, I am legally bound, along with my “agents”, not to reveal his name. HOWEVER, those two links were written up before the contract went into effect.

Here is where things get interesting. I just happened to notice that a person I am presuming is the doctor in question or one of the 2-3 staff members familiar with the case (aka one of his “agents”), made a brief response to my initial post on the Complaints Board. I am presuming this because of the use of the phrase “ridiculous herbal remedy’ in the response. That is FAR too personal to have been written by someone just reading entries on the complaints board.

And so, dear reader, I am going to war. For some reason I am having technical difficulties logging on and making a response to that accusation. Once I do, you all may want to stop by for a look because I can guarantee that things are going to get very, VERY interesting.

This surgeon does not know with whom he is messing. He’s about to find out.

 

Malpractice Insurance

I have spoken previously about the regulations surrounding malpractice insurance in Florida. According to what I have experienced, a plastic surgeon is only required to carry $100,000 in malpractice insurance. If you have to end up suing your plastic surgeon, there are a few factors to consider.

First, the legal fees have to come out of that $100,000. It can take a very long time for your lawyer to research your case. Surgical records have to be pulled and analyzed along with any other pertinent health records.

Second: It can be extraordinarily difficult to prove malpractice took place so there is a decent chance you may not win.

Third: If you DO win, there probably won’t be enough left to cover reconstruction surgery. My reconstruction (just the mounds) and hospital fees cost about $30,000. My nipple reconstruction and revision surgery will be another $10,000 in round numbers.

With the current economy, surgical financing in any decent amount is nearly impossible to come by. So there is every chance that you will have to pay for your reconstruction out of pocket if it is not related to breast cancer.

This regulation needs to be reconsidered. $100,000 is simply not enough money to pay the lawyer AND the doctor.

 

The 200th Post

As the title says, this is the 200th installment of BoobCast. Today I am writing about you, dear reader. Today’s installment is all about the support and the stories that people have shared with me since I first started this blog on Oct. 11, 2008.

When I first started writing this, I was also fairly active on a website called All About Plastic Surgery (http://www.allaboutplasticsurgery.com). When I posted what had happened to me it didn’t take long before I was inundated by questions about various aspects of the surgery. You can find that entry here: http://boobcast.net/2008/10/14/questions/ People expressed a great deal of concern about how well I had checked out the surgeon, what indications I might have had and what legal recourse I might have taken. During that period so many people gave their support and I am grateful for it. So my thanks goes out to the women of the All About Plastic Surgery forum. They were the ones who inspired the idea for BoobCast.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Gee Maria, why do you call it BoobCast? Were they wrapped in plaster or something at one point?”

No, dear reader. There are reasons this site is called BoobCast.  In 2007 the podcasting community lost a precious member by the name of Joe Murphy. He died of a vicious type of cancer that took him quickly. During his medical treatments he talked in vivid detail about what was going on, the testing and all of it. His strength inspired me. I wanted to be as strong and as brave as Joe Murphy. So I planned to podcast what was going on with my breast necrosis. The name of that podcast was going to be BoobCast.

I never met Joe but his life inspired me. It just turns out that I’m not that strong or that brave. To honor that bravery I have kept the name.

I also owe thanks to a very dear friend, Tee Morris. When I was trying to find the strength to create BoobCast, He was there for me. He gave me mental and emotional support by letting me know that I *could* do it. I’m sorry I disapointed you Tee but want to thank you for being a friend when I needed one.

In the time I’ve been writing BoobCast I have had people email me directly for advice. Of course, after reading the email, my advice was always “Contact your PS (plastic surgeon) and ask for [fill-in-the-blank]. Whether it was about bruising, skin texture or pain, I advised talking to their doctor. If they couldn’t get a decent answer from that doctor, talk to another one.

The one that really broke my heart was the husband of a woman who, a few days previous the email,  had the same procedure I had. According to her husband, the pain pills her PS had given her weren’t doing much and she was in constant pain. She couldn’t eat or sleep and she was suffering. I told her husband to call her PS immediately and insist on different pain meds and not take NO for an answer. i explained that, right now it was his job to advocate for his wife since she couldn’t do it herself.

A couple days later I got an email from him saying that her PS had changed her meds and she was doing MUCH better. It’s emails like those that made BoobCast well worth the emotional pain of writing those early posts.

I also want to thank everyone who talked to me about BoobCast at DragonCon last year. Being told in person that I’m making a difference means the world to me. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Finally, my thanks to Carol Montoya, Lolly Daskal and the Woman At Denny’s. I promise that once I’ve had nipple reconstruction and recuperate from that, I WILL write the book. The foundation is in the works already.

My thanks to you all for reading, commenting and talking to me. Here’s to another 200!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2010 in Uncategorized, cosmetic surgery, boob job, Surgical complications, podcast, suicide, breast, Reconstruction, Surgery, Latissimus flap, breast reconstruction, latissimus flap reconstruction, Surgical drains, clogged surgical drains, Nausea, Medical Insurance, Insurance, Medical, Infection, Pain, Pain Management, plastic surgery, Plastic Surgery Disaster, Depression, Post surgical depression, Drain, Prescription Drug Addiction, Drugs, Bras, Bra Fitting, Healing, Sleep, Scars, keloid, PTSD, Flashbacks, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sex, Incisions, dehiscence, Nipples, Nipple reconstruction, Nipple prosthetics, Recovery, emotional healing, emotional scars, Hospital, Hosptial Costs, Hospital fees, Cash fees, wet to dry bandages, debreiding, Invisibility, wheelchair, Ta Ta Tuesday, Surgical Fees, Seroma, Excise, excise fluid, Fluid, Prosthetics, complications, implants, breast implants, communication, breast size, breast volume, bra sizes, slow healing, plastic surgeon, negligence, malpractice, Vacuum assisted wound closure, V.A.C. machine, deformity, fear, Anxiety, mastopexy, anchor breast lift, barter, breast lift, compression dressing, compression bra, necrosis, keloid scars, cortisone, laser, silicone sheets, cryotherapy, interferon, flourouracil, chemotherapy chemical, radiation, breast cancer, mammogram, breast health, situational depression, serous fluid, debridement, memory, granulation tissue, granular tissue, checkup

 

The Reality of Malpractice Law Suits

In the third week after the first surgery I called two different malpractice lawyers. They both told me the same thing. In the state of Florida a plastic surgeon is only required to carry a minimum of $100,000 in malpractice insurance.

That amount would cover the investigative and legal fees and I would be left with very little. In all likelihood it would not be enough to pay for reconstructive surgery.

In the investigative part of the law suit they subpoena the records from the surgery. Once the records are subpoenaed, (or even before that) anyone can go in and change the records to indicate a more favorable position for the surgeon and the surgical team. So by the time the attorney gets them, there may be no evidence at all of malpractice.

It is also difficult to define what exactly constitutes malpractice. Who’s error was it? WAS there even an error?

Much later I spoke to a surgical nurse an another site who said that she thought, from the bruising I described, that something must have gone catastrophically wrong during surgery. But there wasn’t really a way to prove it.

So there you have it. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Ask how much malpractice insurance your PS carries. You only get one body. Make sure it’s protected.

 

Questions

I posted about this blog on the ORIGINAL Implant Forum and within hours I had questions.  So I thought I’d take the time to address them here.

1) Did I have any hints that the surgeon might be negligent:  I checked with HealthGrades.com and bought the full report.  According to the side there were no disciplinary actions either in the past or pending.  The surgeon had been in good standing for over 15 years.

2) Did I pursue legal action:  I spoke to a malpractice lawyer who told me that plastic surgeons in Florida are only required to carry $100,000 in malpractice insurance.  The burden of proof also falls to the plaintiff’s lawyer.  So by the time the law office did all the research and found a way to prove malpractice, most of the 100K would be eaten up by legal fees, leaving me with nothing for the reconstruction surgeries I’ll have to have.

Instead of a law suit, I did the next best thing.  I threatened legal action unless the surgeon gave me back all my surgical fees.  It was agreed with the provision that neither my family nor myself give the name of the surgeon or the name of the center.

I just wanted to be done with the surgeon for good.  Another odd thing is that while I was under the care of that surgeon, no other plastic surgeon would see me for a consultation.  At all.

3) How can I tell if my surgeon is like that? : One of the most valuable lessons I learned is that when it comes to surgery, do NOT go cheap!  If you think it’s a good deal, there’s every chance that person is probably a hack. ANY doctor can call himself a plastic surgeon even if he hasn’t studied the specialty. Always make SURE your surgeon is board certified.

You know what they call a doctor that graduates in the bottom 10% of the medical class, right?

Doctor.

4) So what’s next?:  Because of the way my chest healed, I’ve got to have reconstructive surgery along the same vein as cancer survivors.  I’m seeing THE best cosmetic surgeon in the southeast for the official consultation on Oct. 24th.  In the initial one though Dr. Elliott said that he wanted to use a procedure called the Latissimus Dorsai Flap procedure.  Information can be found here: http://www.breastreconstruction.ca/living_latflap.htm

I’ll be posting more about my consultation when we get back from Atlanta.

If you have any questions, you can post them here.  You can also email me at boobcast@gmail.com or Follow me on Twitter under Boobcast.

 
 
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