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Lawsuits Allege that Medical Group Concealed Information About Plastic Surgeons and Botched Surgeries

Two separate lawsuits accuse doctors affiliated with a single cosmetic surgery practice of medical malpractice. One lawsuit, which settled in early 2014, accused a doctor with the same group of performing a procedure on the plaintiff while she was still conscious. Hatanaka v. Schaefer, et al, No. 37-2013-00028700 (Cal. Super. Ct., San Diego Co., Jan. 3, 2013). The other lawsuit claims that a doctor botched a woman’s cosmetic surgery so severely that she permanently lost her eyesight, and that the medical practice concealed information about the surgeon’s recent dismissal from a plastic surgery residency program for poor performance. Finlan v. Darcy, et al, No. 37-2014-00003357 (Cal. Super. Ct., San Diego Co., Feb. 14, 2014). In addition to medical malpractice claims for breaching the standard of care for a plastic surgeon, the plaintiff is asserting claims related to fraud and negligent hiring.

The plaintiff in Hatanaka went to a cosmetic surgery clinic in Coronado, California in October 2011 for a procedure known as “liposculpture,” which involves removing fat from a patient’s abdomen and injecting it into the face in order to smooth wrinkles. She was told that she would be put under “conscious sedation,” meaning that she would be “awake” but not aware of what was happening during the approximately three-hour procedure. According to an interview she gave to NBC San Diego, the procedure took nearly eight hours, and she was conscious and very much aware for a substantial amount of time. Disciplinary paperwork filed with the state medical board also indicates that the doctor did not complete the transfer of fat correctly.

The plaintiff sued the surgeon and the medical group for malpractice. While the doctor continues to deny any wrongdoing or liability, his insurer has reportedly settled with the plaintiff for more than $900,000. Court records indicate that the case was dismissed at the plaintiff’s request in January 2014.

In the Finlan case, the plaintiff sought treatment from a different doctor in the same cosmetic surgery practice. This doctor reportedly performed a tummy tuck, liposuction, and breast reduction on the plaintiff in November 2012. The plaintiff was under anesthesia during the procedure. She claims that she was told the procedure would take six hours, but it took more than nine. After the surgery, she claims that she suffered physical complications in the areas of the procedures. Further complications allegedly resulted in optic neuropathy, or damage to the optic nerves in both eyes, resulting in permanent blindness.

Her lawsuit asserts causes of action for medical negligence, as well as fraud, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, and negligent hiring. She claims that the medical practice advertised that it had performed over 18,000 cosmetic surgery procedures, and the doctor said that he had performed more than fifty of the types of procedures she wanted. The practice allegedly concealed negative information about the doctor, however. He had been dismissed from a residency program in plastic surgery at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, according to the plaintiff’s complaint, for reasons including “deficiency in numerous clinical areas” and “inconsistent clinical performance.”

For more than twenty years, the medical malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman, Koch & Norman have represented Maryland patients and their families. We have extensive knowledge of the laws and procedures governing Maryland lawsuits. We are available 24/7 and can visit you in your home or at the hospital. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us today online, at (410) 567-0800.

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