Unfortunately, by the time a doctor typically loses their license, they leave many damaged patients in their wake. And typically, only the worst of the worst ever lose their license completely, or if they have an adverse result in a very high profile case.
Patients find comfort in checking the Medical Board websites for violations, probation, letters of reprimand, etc. It is certainly bad when a doctor is on probation, has committed acts of negligence, or has many malpractice suits. However, a clean Medical Board record does not mean a surgeon is a fine surgeon; it could just mean they have not been caught yet, or have not committed sufficiently bad deeds to register on the Medical Board website. On the flip side, I know of fine doctors who have an ominous sounding violation, publicly posted, because they did not register their change of address in time!
Patients also think they are “covered” if they are having surgery with an uncredentialed, non board-certified doctor because “they can sue if the doctor screws up”. Unfortunately, this is also a difficult burden to prove. Just because a doctor has a bad outcome does not mean he or she committed malpractice. Likewise, if a doctor has a lifetime of below average outcomes, none of which fall “below the standard of care”, they will continue to deliver bad care, or in the case of plastic surgery, subpar plastic surgery, indefinitely.
Patients might be shocked at which doctors never became board certified in Plastic Surgery, yet hold themselves to be plastic surgeons. Some have no hospital credentials, shady training, and waiting rooms full of patients.
One physician in particular comes to mind who had a busy liposuction practice. His advertisements were so good, I might have been tempted to go to him myself. His prices were very low. However he was not board certified. His surgeries were so terrible that eventually he had many malpractice suits and lost his license to practice medicine in the state of California. His damaged patients got nothing except a lifetime of revisional surgery since all his assets were hidden or gone.
There is no one single source where patients can go to guarantee that a plastic surgeon is a good surgeon, but looking at these will all help:
- Board certification
- Hospital credentials
- Academic credentials (i.e. Professor at a teaching university)
- Before-after pictures,
- The consultation itself
- Internet searches
- Examination of the doctor’s website and curriculum vitae (his resume—look at a few and you will soon see what is important and what is fluff)
- Asking your local doctor
Please do your research and minimize the chance you are a statistic or have a poor outcome.