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Increase in laser surgery errors

A study by doctors from Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts has found that more and more legal claims are being made against physicians who perform laser surgery. Some of the physicians who are being sued are not even the individuals who made the surgical errors or operated the laser device.

According to the study, 174 cases have arisen from hair removal, facial rejuvenation and similar procedures during the last 25 years. Out of these cases, the physician performed the procedure in 100 of them. However, a physician was named as a defendant in 146 of the procedures. Researchers used information from a large legal database regarding cases and verdicts that occurred between 1985 and 2012. The individuals who were responsible for performing the procedure came from a variety of specialties, including surgeons, dermatologists and obstetricians. Nurses and aesteticians performed 40 percent of the procedures included in the study.

The federal government does not impose requirements for someone to use lasers for cutaneous procedures. It also does not mandate any type of training or supervision for a person to have before he or she can complete the procedure. Individuals who were injured during these procedures commonly suffer from scarring or burns. Among the cases, successful claims resulted in an average award of $380,700. Physicians can take certain steps to minimize the potential for lawsuits, such as becoming familiar with state regulations, ensuring that every member of the surgical staff has necessary training and licensing, and recognizing that a physician can be held responsible for injuries even if he or she did not conduct the procedure.

When physicians act in a negligent manner, fail to train staff or fail to properly supervise staff, they may be held legally liable for injuries that occur. A Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney may be able to help victims who were injured during surgery.

Source: Medpage Today, "Malpractice: Laser Surgery Lawsuits Surge," Nancy Walsh, Feb. 20, 2013

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