Dentist sued for botched breast surgery also an M.D.

2008 11 25 12 52 48 587 Malpractice 70

A Seattle dentist who recently made headlines for a botched breast reduction surgery is also a medical doctor.

Several news outlets reported that an 18-year-old woman is suing Thomas Laney, D.D.S., M.D., for a breast reduction surgery that he performed on her three years ago.

Now Dr. Laney's lawyer is arguing that his client's credentials as an oral surgeon are irrelevant to the situation in question.

"Dr. Laney is an M.D. who also happens to have a dental license," attorney Steve Fitzer said. "By labeling him a dentist, the story took on a life of its own."

Dr. Laney is fully qualified to do this surgery and has had a variety of training that includes CME credits to improve and upgrade his techniques, Fitzer said.

"The use of his dentistry qualifications is sensationalism, is inappropriate, and out of context," he added.

However, Patricia Greenstreet, the woman's lawyer, questioned Dr. Laney's qualifications. She noted that he has not done a plastic surgery residency, is not board-certified as a plastic surgeon, and that most of his training for the surgery came from weekend courses.

"Washington state does not require these things for doctors to do plastic surgery," she said. "It's a 'buyers beware' scenario."

Dr. Laney has been sued multiple times before, Greenstreet added. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Dr. Laney has faced several lawsuits, including a reprimand for the death of a patient who had facial work done.

The woman who has filed the latest lawsuit went to Dr. Laney in August 2005, according to a complaint filed with the King County Superior Court.

Her breasts were disproportionately large, which hampered her ability to play sports and caused her neck and back pain, Greenstreet told the Post-Intelligencer.

The complaint faults Dr. Laney with negligence, performing a surgery beyond the scope of his training, and failing to inform the patient and her family of the material facts related to treatment.

According to a plastic surgeon's report that is attached to the complaint, Dr. Laney mismarked the patient's breasts, placed her nipples cross-eyed, and left in sutures too long so that the patient developed railroad track suture lines. As a result, she suffers from pain, suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement, according to the complaint.

Greenstreet admitted that her client did sign a consent form, but explained that the treatment Dr. Laney provided was negligent. "You cannot sign away negligence through a consent form," she said.

The surgery has affected her client's lifestyle, she added. "Her breasts are not normal in appearance and do not fit into normal clothes, her body image has been devastated, and she has a limited social life," Greenstreet said.

Dr. Laney's lawyer contests these claims, however, noting that the girl's family was recommended to Dr. Laney by a satisfied patient. The consent form they signed included extensive information about the risks of breast reduction surgery, he added.

"We disagree with the claims, and we will gather more information and evaluate them," Fitzer said.

Dr. Laney is currently practicing as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Seattle.

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