A New York City OB/GYN was found liable for medical malpractice after he tried to prevent a female patient from seeking care for the severe burns he accidentally inflicted on her stomach during a laser liposuction procedure.
A civil court held that 56-year-old Muraga Raj acted negligently during the $8,000 cosmetic procedure that left a 26-year-old Bronx woman with lasting deformities and scars. The woman’s lawyer, Andrew Laskin, is calling on the state of New York to revoke the medical license of Raj, who has settled at least one other malpractice suit in the past.
“He knew she was in agony and that her skin was dying, layer by layer by layer — yet he chose to lie and cover it up. That is what a fraudster does, not a medical doctor,” Laskin told reporters. “For that he will pay, and out of his own pocket.”
“Before he does this to someone else, [the state] must act to revoke his license to practice,” he added.
The 26-year-old woman reportedly came to the gynecologist’s upper Manhattan offices in 2011 with the hopes of trimming some of the excess stomach fat she had put on after her pregnancy. The procedure – which, according to court documents, was interrupted at least once when Raj left the room to sign for an order of Chinese food – was described as a minimally-invasive, four-hour long laser liposuction. At the end of the procedure, Raj bandaged the woman and sent her home with medication.
A day later, the 26-year-old returned to Raj’s practice with excruciating abdominal pain and swelling to her lower back. The gynecologist assured her that the wounds were not burns, and that there was no reason to go to the emergency room. Then, a few days later, the woman collapsed from unbearable pain and was rushed to the hospital.
Standing by his dubious diagnosis, Raj told the woman over the phone that she still did not need emergency treatment and that she should return to his office right away. When she came back, he gave her a burn ointment and told her that she looked much better.
A few days later, the woman went to another doctor to get a second opinion. She was immediately sent to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center to undergo severe burn treatment and skin grafting surgery.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Adriana Martino of Skinney Medspa said that the laser procedure is widely known as a no-risk, in-and-out alternative to traditional liposuction. Although the $150,000 equipment is typically used by plastic surgeons and dermatologists, it can be sold to any practicing physician.
“It’s hard to regulate what kind of doctor can operate it,” Martino said. “I think it’s more about the consumer being smart and reading about it.”
The court has not yet determined how much damages Raj will have to pay for the botched procedure.