The personal injury team at the BFP law firm specializes in every kind of personal injury case where the injury occurred on the territory of Poland. We have represented, and are still representing, hundreds of clients across Poland, as well as residents of other countries, that seek compensation for their injury resulting from medical negligence, road traffic accidents, aviation accidents, defective products, and others. [Read more.]

Plastic Surgery Malpractice in Turkey

Gabriela Lenarczyk17 October 2023Komentarze (4)

Are you considering undergoing plastic surgery in Turkey? The Internet is full of accounts encouraging people to combine the ‘pleasant’ with the ‘useful’, i.e., a holiday with an aesthetic medicine procedure. Unfortunately, an increasing number of reports suggest that the quality of these services is unfortunately as low as their price. A medical error committed in Turkey is most often treated back in Poland. Expenses pile up and a questions arises: what can be done about it?

How to seek compensation for a medical error committed by Turkish doctors? Here, unfortunately, the problems continue. Turkey is not a member of the European Union, so patients who are treated there cannot benefit from the facilitations that EU law introduced for citizens of EU countries. The assessment of whether or not a medical error has occurred is governed by Turkish law. Finally, the procedure for obtaining compensation for an error must be initiated in Turkey.

Therefore, Atty. Jolanta Budzowska asked her professional colleague, Turkish lawyer Cemre Yilmaz Akyay, who, like her, is a member of PEOPIL and specialises in medical malpractice cases, about a number of issues that may be of interest to Polish patients considering travelling to Turkey for a cosmetic procedure.

What legal steps can be taken by a patient who has undergone plastic surgery in Turkey and is convinced that a medical error has occurred?  And that the result of the treatment falls far short of his expectations? I am referring to operations such as breast augmentation, hair transplantation, liposuction, abdominal plastic surgery or buttock implants…

In some cases, we notice that clients still have a good relationship with the doctor/assistant. In such situations, the option of a free or reduced fee corrective surgery can be considered. If clients agree to this, they undergo another surgery with the same doctor. This option has satisfied many clients. However, there are also clients who have lost their trust in the doctor and do not want to be treated by the same doctor again.

In many cases, we observe that the doctor/assistant no longer responds to the clients’ messages. When no solution is offered, unfortunately, the only option left is to go to court.

Where to start?

The main problem is the widespread difficulty in obtaining medical records. Hospitals often refuse to provide the medical records. For this reason, initiating a criminal procedure may be necessary to request the necessary documents through the prosecutor’s office. Additionally, a civil lawsuit can be filed. You can sue the public or private hospital, as well as the doctor performing the procedure, and of course their insurers.

Is there – as is the case in Poland – compulsory third-party liability insurance in Turkey, i.e., insurance against liability related to the course of treatment?

Physicians, dentists and specialists as per specialist legislation, who are working in public health institutions and organizations are obliged to have an insurance against the damages that can be claimed from them by the third parties due to medical malpractice and against the recourse to be made to them by their own institutions.

Most of the policies cover an amount of 250,000 Turkish Lira (€8.700) up to 750,000 Turkish Lira (€26.000). There are policies above this amount, but insurance companies require approval from the general directorate for amounts like 1,000,000 Turkish Lira (€34.700). Doctors or clinics that lack liability insurance may face a fine.

Insurance for private clinics is voluntary. Here, policies are often higher and reach the equivalent of €63.000.

Can compensation be claimed directly from the insurer that insures the doctor or the clinic? 

Yes, but this involves, among other things, the jurisdiction of the courts. In Turkey, a medical malpractice claim can be referred to three different courts. Firstly, before the Consumer Court – the condition is prior mediation. If the proceedings are to be brought against the insurer, the Commercial Court will have jurisdiction. Here, prior mediation is also necessary. And finally, lawsuits against public hospitals are referred to the Administrative Court.

What costs are involved in pursuing a claim for damages?

The court fee is calculated based on the claim amount. Additionally, expert fees and other costs such as postage expenses.

There is no court fee when the claim is handled by the Consumer Court.

The court fee is a percentage of the claim amount. There is no certain percentage on every kind of claim amount. To give some examples for the year 2023:

  • Claim amount: 100.000 Turkish Lira has a court fee of 3076,50 Turkish Lira.
  • Claim amount: 500.000 Turkish Lira has a court fee of 9907,50 Turkish Lira.
  • Claim amount: 1.000.000 Turkish Lira has a court fee of 18.446,25 Turkish Lira.

In addition, the claimant incurs other costs, such as postal fees and the costs of expert opinions, which amount on average to between 3.600 –  5.600 Turkish Lira.

Is an injured patient entitled to compensation, damages, pension for increased needs (e.g. need for care by a third party)?

The amount of compensation can vary depending on several factors. The calculation of compensation is a complex process that takes into account various elements, including medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering.

If, for example, the patient becomes permanently disabled or experiences a significant impairment due to the malpractice, compensation may be provided for the long-term impact on their quality of life and ability to work: e.g., occupational disability compensation, need for care by a TP etc.

There is also a possibility to seek compensation to reimburse the financial or emotional support and care lost by a person’s family members or dependents due to their death or injury. This compensation can be provided to family members or dependents who have lost the deceased or injured person’s income or assistance. Loss of consortium compensation is sought to compensate for the decline in the living standards of family members or dependents resulting from the death or injury and is often used in legal proceedings.

How much time do we have to claim compensation for a medical error in Turkey?

Claims for malpractice against public hospitals should be initiated within 1 year from the date of discovery of the damage and the doctor’s negligence. A written application to the relevant administrative authority must be made within this timeframe. If the administrative authority does not respond within 30 days or partially or completely rejects the application, a full liability lawsuit in administrative court must be filed within 60 days from the end of the 30-day period or from the date of receipt of the rejection response.

A two-year limitation period applies when a case can also be classified as a criminal offence. The limitation period against private clinics is longer – five years.

Does the patient’s written contract and consent for the procedure change the patient’s legal position in case of complications? If so, how?

In emergency situations, intervention is at the discretion of the physician. In general plastic/aesthetic surgeries are not emergency situations, so there is always a written consent by the patient or representative.

In most of my cases, the consent agreements are signed on the same day as the surgery. Case law states that when a consent agreement is signed on the same day as the surgery, we can conclude that the patient is not informed properly.

Additionally, it’s worth considering whether the contract was drafted in the individual’s native language and if in Turkish, if they received assistance from an interpreter. Also, this is most of the time a problem. 90% of the consent agreements are in Turkish. In light of the aforementioned circumstances; yes, it can change the patient’s legal position in the case.

Is there a publicly available register of doctors in Turkey and what information regarding qualifications does it contain?

Yes, Turkey maintains a publicly available register of doctors, which includes, i.a., the name and surname, the registration number assigned to each registered doctor and information about the doctor’s qualifications, including his or her degree and specialisation. This register is typically overseen by the Turkish Ministry of Health and may be accessible through the Turkish Medical Association website https://www.ttb.org.tr/.

Thank you for the interview.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Amaka Okonkwo February 10, 2024 at 22:20

Hello i want to make an enquiry on how to sue a surgeon in turkey for medical malpractice
Please if you could get back to me for further information
Thanks
Amaka

Reply

Gabriela Lenarczyk April 9, 2024 at 11:35

Dear Amaka, we have forwarded your enquiry to our colleague in Turkey – Cemre Yilmaz Akyay. Please await contact from her.
Best wishes,
The BFP team.

Reply

Maria April 9, 2024 at 07:32

Hi, I had aqua filling injections in my buttocks in 2019 in Turkey at a reputable company, they have never been right, for the last 2 years they have already migrated into different sections of my body. They told me it was only lasting a few years,between 2-5, and now I’ve been to another specialist who has told me that was not actually true, and that aqua filling only should actually last around 2 years, I’ve been contacting them via email for 2 years now with no joy, as I’ve been in servere pain, what they actually put into my body was semi permanent which I didn’t agree to.

Reply

Gabriela Lenarczyk April 9, 2024 at 11:34

Dear Maria, we have forwarded your enquiry to our colleague in Turkey – Cemre Yilmaz Akyay. Please await contact from her.
Best wishes,
The BFP team.

Reply

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