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Uncertified cosmetic surgeons need to be held liable for injuries

Cosmetic surgery is as popular as it has ever been -- and people are willing to shell out a lot of money to look their best and feel better about themselves.

Maybe that's why so many doctors who aren't certified to practice cosmetic surgeries are willing to gamble with their patients' lives.

Specialized surgeries, like cosmetic procedures known as the Brazilian butt lift, require extra training. That's why board certification procedures exist. A certification tells patients that the doctor has the requisite knowledge to safely perform delicate cosmetic surgery.

Unfortunately, not every patient knows this. Or, some may be simply willing to overlook the lack of certification -- especially if the surgeon lulls them into complacency by saying that he or she has performed many such surgeries before.

Every year, some of those patients die. In December 2017, an otherwise healthy woman ended up dying in a Florida clinic during cosmetic surgery by one such uncertified surgeon. Hers was the fourth death in four years at that clinic.

Not only was the doctor involved uncertified, he wasn't really a surgeon. He was essentially a primary care physician or family doctor. The doctor didn't even bother to keep malpractice insurance.

All he had was an unsubstantiated claim that he'd already completed thousands of similar surgeries without a hitch and his assurances that "standard preoperative" steps had been taken.

Experts in plastic surgery blame both the doctors and the companies the sell plastic surgery equipment. They say that doctors see the surgeries as easy money -- there's seldom any insurance involved and bills are paid upfront. For their part, the manufacturers of equipment designed to perform liposuction and other procedures push the equipment on unqualified doctors and insist the equipment practically operates itself.

Credible surgeons recommend that patients always check a plastic surgeon's credentials through certificationmatters.org. They also say that doctors who perform cosmetic surgery without the proper training are liable for malpractice and should be held responsible to those they disfigure, injure or kill.

It's hard to say if the family of the victim in this case can recover damages from the uninsured doctor -- although the clinic that he worked in may be liable as well. It's important that victims and their family members always explore all their legal options before acting.

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