Should I Stick With a Doctor Who Has a Settlement on His Record?

I have been researching a doctor to do a breast augmentation. I went to the medical board website for my state and the doctor I have in mind has a $950,000 settlement on his record for a wound infection in '97. I also came across a strong review where this person claims the doctor performed an operation that caused disfigurement from gangrene. This patient has even put up a website warning people about the doctor as well as documenting her experience. Do I run the other direction or ignore?

Doctor Answers 16

Doctor with settlement

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A single settlement may or may not mean anything. If but for this information you trust and like this doctor, I would suggest ask for patient referrals from the doctor. If he is in your local community, ask you own doctor. Doctors in the community generally have a good handle on another doctor's reputation, or can find out.


Robin T. W. Yuan, M.D.


Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Doctor with a malpractice settlement

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A wound infection can have nothing to do with surgical technique.  Unfortunately, even when we operate in accredited hospitals, we have absolutely no control over the potential for infection in the OR and, in such cases, the surgeon is always sued as the captain of the ship.  The internet can be lethal to a good doctor when a dissatisfied patient posts something vitriolic and negative online.  I find it troubling that someone went to the effort to create such a website because it is suggestive of emotional problems on her part, too.  Some malpractice policies contain a settlement clause and the doctor cannot object if the insurance company decides to settle rather than seek justice in open court.  Doing your homework is very important.  If you are comfortable with this surgeon, then discuss the matter openly and candidly with him as the conversation may help you to reach a decision.

Wound Infection Settlement in 1997

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  If you could only find one settlement 16 years ago, you should probably give the surgeon a break.  No matter how perfectly executed a surgery,  there can always be a problem.  As for a website, be very careful about these things, because these may present only one perspective that may be very far afield from the actual events that transpired.

Should I Stick With a Doctor Who Has a Settlement on His Record?

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I would say yes. 

A settlement means just that, an agreement. Although the patient is free to express his or her thoughts, privacy rules prevent the surgeon from stating the other side. Wound infections occur, and rarely have catastophic outcomes. Nothing in  a settlement suggests that the surgeon was at fault. If something were done that was outside the standard of care, there may well have been sanctions by the medical board, and apparently you would have discovered that were it so. 

One bad outcome 15 years ago is not a reason to shop elsewhere. I can assure you that many superb and nationally prominent physicians in many fields have settled cases over the years. It they were disqualified from practice, the public health would suffer immensely.

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon


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The actual truth for most if not all of these settlements is usually far from what you read or is depicted by one individual. You have no idea how much these cases are distorted by the individuals envolved for monetary gain

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon

Doctor with a lawsuit?

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How did you feel about the doctor??? It is very hard to judge this situation. If you had gone to the medical board website and the surgeon has 6 injunctions I would turn my eyebrow and run. One incident is hard to judge a surgeon. Think of the 100's of other patients that could be thrilled by this surgeon's work. Number one, ask to speak to other patients so you can better get a sense of the situation. Two, as long as we all use the knife to cut as surgeons we will all have complications. NOBODY, has no complications. Things happen and it is the risk you take with elective surgery, as much as you take the risk of death  behind the wheel of the car every day. Unfortunately the surgeon will be unable to discuss this incident with you, but maybe if he could you would find it was a situation that just happened. It could have also been a scenario that the surgeon showed negligence, but you will never know. I say you have to judge based on facts. Hard to let one person bring down a surgeon's entire reputation. If that happened none of us would be surgeons that are writing you in this forum. So, collect your facts, talk to other patients and then just follow your heart. If you find that you connect with another surgeon who you feel has a clean record than consider changing, but give this doctor a chance.

When to choose a doctor who has a settlement

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Hi Morgan,

Sometimes really bad things can happen to the patients of even the very best  plastic surgeons. I agree with Dr. Gottlieb's and other's, statements. Some of very best in our specialty have had some bad things outcomes due to undiscovered conditions; it is often out of the control of the surgeon. Talk to your doctor and ask for his or her explanation. Ask if he of she has had any malpractice judgments since this unfortunate incident. Sometimes people are crazy and make their problem hell for the person who treated them, even if it is out of their control. They can say pretty much anything on the web and the physician is unable to respond to this. It is possible that they did suffer substandard care though. Has this been a pattern for this doctor?  If you think that you have a skilled and caring doctor, then you are probably going to be well taken care of. There should be other places that you can see how your doctor was rated.  Look at his or her pictures. Look at the office staff. Are you comfortable there? Did you like the information given to you at your consultation? Did you talk to the doctor and have a good read on that person? How is the procedure done? Is there a concern that he or she cuts corners? Avoid the offices with the best prices in the area or do not have the properly trained, (or inappropriate), staff. Is there an anesthesiologist attending your procedure? What happens if something goes wrong? I wouldn't let one, admittedly very bad outcome, affect your choice. Best of luck and do your homework.  

Doctors with a Law suit or settlement

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All doctors will have this issue sooner or later.  We are not perfect and mistakes do happen when operating thousands of times.  A doctor with one settlement in 16 years is excellent.  Most plastic surgeons have issues every to or three years.  You can always ask him about this as well.  If you like him and respect him then he may be excellent. 

Choosing a doctor

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Many doctors have beens sued, and in plastic surgery it is a rare surgeon who does not.  If you like his work and like him, and have seen good results, then you should make an educated choice. If unsure, then go to someone else.

Dr with past problems

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A lot of plastic surgeons have had lawsuits. It comes with the territory, they are impossible to avoid.  However, it sounds like you have enough anxiety about this particular surgeon, so why drive yourself nuts? Check out other doctors.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.