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Victim of Negligent Cosmetic Surgery Overseas Awarded Six-Figure Damages

Those who undergo cosmetic or other forms of surgery abroad can find it very hard to obtain compensation if things go wrong. However, the case of a nightclub dancer who nearly died following a breast augmentation operation in Poland showed that English lawyers are well able to rise to the challenge.

After conducting a search on the internet, the woman flew to Poland and underwent the operation, which cost over £4,000. She endured appalling agony due to a post-operative infection and, after returning to the UK, was rushed to hospital suffering from life-threatening sepsis. Psychiatrically scarred by her experience, she felt physically disfigured and, unwilling to put her body on show, she was unable to return to her successful career as a dancer and stripper.

She launched clinical negligence and breach of contract claims in this country against the Polish clinic where the operation was performed and one of the surgeons involved. The surgeon was the clinic's majority shareholder and, although habitually resident and domiciled in Poland, he was registered with the UK's General Medical Council.

Upholding her claims, the High Court wholly accepted her account of events before and after the operation. Medical evidence indicated that the operation and the pre- and post-operative medical care she received fell far below acceptable standards. There was, in particular, an egregious failure to adopt adequate decontamination measures to guard against infection.

The Court awarded her more than £150,000 in damages, a sum that reflected her past and future lost earnings, her expenses and the pain, suffering and loss of amenity she endured. About £38,500 of the damages total was payable by the clinic's Polish insurers, who were also defendants in the case.

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