Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Woman Dies After Infection from Liposuction

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Aug 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

Liposuction is a plastic surgery operation that removes fat from the body. Most liposuction patients focus on taking fat out of the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks, in looking to change their body's shape. It is the most common cosmetic surgery procedure in the United States; however, it can still be a very dangerous procedure, leading to infection, deep vein thrombosis, and organ perforation.

Krystal Ballard made a plastic surgery appointment with Silk Touch Laser, in Eagle, Idaho. She was looking to have liposuction and a fat-transfer procedure. However, less than a week after the operation, Krystal Ballard was dead from an infection caused by bacteria in her right buttock.

Charles Ballard, Krystal's husband, was devastated by his wife's sudden death, and wanted answers from the doctor's involved in her liposuction. He filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit against Silk Touch Laser and anesthesiologist Brian Kerr. Ballard claimed that the reusable medical equipment used during the procedure was not properly disinfected, and introduced bacteria into his wife's body.

Bacterial infections can lead to sepsis. Symptoms of sepsis include fever, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing. Severe sepsis can lead to septic shock. This can lead to impaired blood flow to vital organs, blood clots, organ failure, and tissue death.

After a trial, the jury sided with Ballard, awarding him $2.54 million in economic damages, and another $1.25 million in noneconomic damages. Silk Touch Laser appealed the decision. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the jury's decision.

Despite the young woman's death, Dr. Kerr says it has not affected his business. Kerr told a local newspaper that the medi spa has had no other cases of infection and that he believes the clinic follows proper sterilization procedures. Instead, Dr. Kerr appears to be blaming Krystal Ballard.

“I don't want to be at all disparaging about her,” said Kerr. “I think my sadness is I wish that she had done what we had asked her to do...the only thing we have changed about our practice is to put more of an emphasis on that.”

Unfortunately, it is common for doctors to refuse to take responsibility when medical mistakes occur. They may blame other doctors, nurses, systemic problems, or even put the blame on the patient. Many doctors find it difficult to admit when they make a mistake, either out of professional arrogance or concerns about malpractice claims. However, research has shown that open communication can go a long way to helping patients and their families after a medical error.

In this case, a jury of citizens found the doctor was responsible for the woman's death, and the doctor and his medi spa must pay her husband $3.8 million for their negligence.

If you or a loved one was injured because of a medical mistake during plastic surgery, the Gilman & Bedigian team is here to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of your medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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