Plastic Surgeon Vindicated in Failure of Breast Reconstruction
A Nassau County jury rendered its verdict in favor of a plastic surgeon after multiple failed attempts to reconstruct the patient’s right breast after double mastectomy. The jury found that the patient provided appropriate informed consent, and that the surgeon adhered to accepted medical practice. James M. Furey, Jr. represented the surgeon.
The procedure at issue was a DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) free flap reconstruction. This is a microsurgery technique, in which two flaps of tissue are removed from the abdomen and reattached in place of the breast tissue. Although the left breast reconstruction worked without complication, the surgeon encountered repeated clotting in one the two veins relied upon to drain the right breast flap. It became clear that the flap was not viable, and it was removed. The surgeon then proposed a latissimus dorsi flap procedure with artificial implant. The procedure was initially successful, but the tissue expander eventually became exposed and had to be removed. The surgeon proposed autologous fat transfer for a third attempt, but the patient declined.
The plaintiff contended that neither surgery should have been offered, because the patient was high-risk due to morbid obesity. The surgeon countered that he had good results, even with morbidly obese patients. The jury deliberated for approximately two hours.