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Archive for March 22nd, 2013

A larger version of this infographic is available on the Beardsells website at present

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Would You Rather Pay Your Attorney Or Your Doctor For Cosmetic Surgery?

Judging by the title to this blog post, you are wondering why making a choice between a doctor and an attorney is even necessary. Unfortunately, for a large percentage of patients seeking cosmetic surgery, seeking an attorney post cosmetic surgery is becoming a more common phenomenon.

In the most high-profile case of alleged negligence involving cosmetic surgery in the UK, Denise Hendry, wife of ex-Blackburn Rovers and Scotland footballer Colin Hendry, almost died in 2002 after liposuction she had at the Broughton Park hospital in Preston went badly wrong.1Though the aforementioned case was one of a liposuction “gone wrong”, a majority of patients trust their doctor to perform the promised services with the highest degree of skill and professionalism. But trust will take you only so far and if the questions presented below are questions that you have asked yourself prior, during, or after surgery, you might have a ripe claim for medical negligence.

Were you safe during and after surgery?

If at anytime during or after your surgery, you felt unsafe, then clearly your doctor was not performing his duty of care to you as per acceptable legal standards. Doctors need to perform surgeries under hygienic conditions to avoid infections as well as set up adequate post surgery wound care. The most common negligence actions fall under this category. These include but are not limited to excessive swelling, infections, scarring, etc.

Were you informed of all associated risks relevant to the procedure?

One of the most important duties a doctor must perform is informing you of all risks prior to surgery. A good doctor will sit you down and carefully explain all risks and complications associated with your surgery. Further, such doctor will allow you adequate time to review your decision based on his/her risk assessment and ensure all your questions are answered. If your doctor fails to have this conversation with you, contact your local attorney to discuss a claim for medical negligence.

Did the doctor have your consent for all the procedures performed on you?

If you consulted your doctor for cosmetic surgery, naturally he/she has your consent to perform the requested procedure. However, sometimes doctors perform surgery outside the ‘scope of consent’, justifying it with “I knew if I pinched that region of your nose a bit further, it would look as good as new”. Remember, doctors need your consent prior to performing an operation on you.

These are just some of the many causes of action that are available under a medical negligence claim. Since most negligence claims have strict time limits associated with them, it is imperative that you contact a solicitors such as Pryers at the earliest.

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Should America Embrace ‘New Age of Alternative Business Structures’?
Speaking at the New York Bar Association Conference in October last year, I summarised how the reputation and duty of the legal sector can remain intact, if ‘professional standards’ are maintained.

Despite the opportunity for Alternative Business Structures to operate unethically, it is ultimately down to the individuals behind them to uphold professional legal service providing standards.

Here is an excerpt from my speech:

“ABSs allow lawyers and non-lawyers to share the management and control of a law firm, while allowing for external investment and ownership. ABSs, like other legal practises, are licensed and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

“At a practical level, the licence application takes between six to nine months, although it is expected that this duration will diminish as the SRA’s experience increases.

“The duty of the solicitor is not to allow his or her independence to be compromised and to act in the best interests of the client.

“This issue is particularly acute in the personal injury sector – the specialism in which I practise. In June 2012, 230 Stage 1 license applications for an ABS have been received by the SRA. The majority those forwarded and granted are in the personal injury sector.

“My conclusion is that the door has already been opened by Australia and the UK, and the United States and Portugal will be left behind if they do not embrace this new age of alternative business structures.

“That is not to say, however, that I am not acutely concerned about the need for the highest professional standards to be maintained. However, I am far from convinced that ownership lies at the heart of the answers required for maintaining excellent professional practise.

“Sadly, in the UK and I believe elsewhere, there are too many examples of professional bodies falling woefully short of the professional standards, which they ought to uphold and maintain. It is about high integrity individuals whether it is an ABS or non-ABS structure which applies.”
This was part of a much heartier monologue, where I went into detail on the origin of ABSs in the UK, how they were met with criticism from the beginning here and how they were defended by Sir David Clementi last year.

For the public, the benefits were listed by Clementi as follows:

More choice
Reduced prices
Better access to justice
Improve consumer service
Greater convenience
Greater consumer confidence
He also cited the potential benefits for legal service providers as follows:
Access to finance
Spread of risk
Flexibility
Ease of hiring and retaining high quality staff
More choice for new legal professionals

There is no reason why a corporate entity should not be able to offer legal representation to the public and I recognise this; I’m simply raising awareness about how it is up to the individuals behind these companies to provide a service in line with the first set of Clementi’s listed benefits.

I am not actively promoting the idea of ABSs over independent personal injury solicitors but instead acknowledging that they are now an inevitable part of the UK legal sector – they can work to serve the public in the US too…if managed properly.

About the Author

John Spencer is Director of Spencers Solicitors in Derbyshire whose practice deals with all types of personal injury compensation claims. He blogs regularly and is a Claimant Director of the Portal Co board.

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