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Tallahassee, FL

Should my surgeon be financially responsible for additional surgery and hosptialization?

I had a buttocks lift, thigh lift, and brachioplasty on Feb. 12 in my surgeon's outpatient surgical facility. When the nurses were helping me get up to go home, the incision over my buttocks ripped open -- about a 4-inch section, through all four layers of skin/closure, right down to deep tissues. It was a gaping wound. My surgeon came back and re-closed it using local anesthetic. When the nurses again tried to gently and carefully assist me to get up and go home, it ripped open again. My surgeon came back and closed it again, this time using heavier sutures and staples. He said it would hold -- but it didn't. Before I'd even moved off the gurney, it had ripped open again. At that point, we went to the hospital. I was admitted through the ER and my surgeon took me back into surgery for another try under general anesthesia. When I awoke, he told me that he had put in four big "bolster stitches" to keep that part of the incision together. I was in the hospital for three days and then went home with a Foley catheter on total bed rest for another week. I did not have enough range of motion to sit or even bend without further ripping my incision. Even so, I broke two of the bolster stitches with just minimal movement. After two weeks, my surgeon removed the remaining bolster stitches. After one additional week, he removed the stitches from the ripped area of the incision. I now have a fairly large (3-inch wide, 2-inch tall) open wound in the middle of my back that will require a couple of months to heal in and which will leave an ugly scar. I still am not able to sit up or bend without causing further ripping, though it's getting a little better each day. I was able to use a toilet for the first time today -- 24 days after the surgery. It's been quite an ordeal. I know that complications can happen, but this seems like a pretty unusual situation. To me, the only plausible explanation is that he removed too much skin and made the incision too tight in that area. I don't think he did this on purpose or even carelessly, but I do feel that he made a significant error in judgment, and that I did not receive appropriate care. Given that, I feel I should not be financially responsible for his mistake. I would like him to pay for my hospitalization and the additional surgery (I have about 12K in new bills so far). Is that a reasonable thing to expect? I don't want to sue my doctor -- I like him and I know that he is very upset that this has happened. However, I feel that I've already paid quite a price for the error, and that he should bear the financial part of the burden. How should I approach this subject with him? Is there a way to ask for this without making him my enemy and killing our doctor-patient relationship? I think he's a good doctor who just made a very unfortunate error in this instance. I don't want retribution of any kind -- I just don't want to owe so much money for something that seems clearly to have been caused by his error.

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Doctor/Professional Answers (2)   


Plastic surgeon
Scottsdale, AZ
United States
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February 7, 2011 6:57 AM

You chose to have elective surgery and it looks like from what you are describing that you had quite a lot done at once. The complications you are describing are well known and your (more)
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Plastic surgeon
New York, NY
United States
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November 6, 2009 9:18 AM

A board certified plastic surgeon will understand your concern. Make an appointment and I am sure he/she will understand your feelings. You can then come to a conclusion on how to fix (more)
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