Go to most any plastic surgeon’s website and you’ll see plenty of before and after photos of real patients. For the doctors and their potential clients, this is all the proof needed to show that under the steady hand of a qualified plastic surgeon, the results can be dramatic. But what if those pictures were stolen and being marketed under false pretenses?
Doctors Plagiarizing Plastic Surgery Pictures
“What normal person would ever go on a website and see before and after’s and think well, this doctor really didn’t do that,” says Dr. Simeon Wall Jr., a board certified plastic surgeon from Shreveport, Louisiana. But that’s exactly what can happen, says Wall. He was floored when he saw photos of his own patients on another doctor’s website. “I was doing research on the internet for a presentation and I happen to come across some of my own before and after pictures on another doctor’s website.” Wall says this was the fourth time in ten years that another doctor was taking credit for his work.
Fitness trainers, professional photographers and artists are just some of the professions now challenging the courts to create laws and penalties against such thefts. But doctors taking credit for someone for another doctor’s work raises much more serious questions, says Jacksonville, Florida plastic surgeon, Paul Scioscia. “Within our society there are issues or potential penalties if a physician produces or uses other people’s photographs to represent their before and after photographs; that’s not permissible within our ethics.”
No Guarantees against Cyber-Plagiarism
Water marks and new technology can make it more difficult to lift a photo from the website, but Dr. Scioscia says there are no guarantees. “Once they leave our premises, all bets are off and that’s the era that we live in. Once digital media escapes your procession it’s very hard to control where it disseminates.”
As for Dr. Wall, he’s fighting back using the legal system and it’s not his own skin he’s trying to save. “It’s basically fishing to the public saying, ‘I’ve made these results, come on in and I’ll give you these same results’. It can be dangerous for the unsuspecting patient.”
“This is yet another reminder for patients to ask questions, do your research and make sure your surgeon is board certified,” says Scioscia. It wouldn’t hurt for doctors to do some checking as well by doing a periodic search on the internet to make sure your patient’s pictures aren’t being illegally used.