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Patient Burned During Procedure, Due to Practitioner Arguing on Phone with her Boyfriend 


Asli Ilhan, 42, says she is permanently disfigured after undergoing a botched cosmetic procedure. She went in for her second laser facelift in November 2020, but things didn’t go as planned. She remembers feeling a burning sensation on her face while the practitioner argued on the phone with her boyfriend during the procedure. 

Now, she says her skin will never be the same.

Heated Words

Ilhan, who lives in Antalya, Turkey, sued the cosmetology clinic for damages due to negligence.

She told a court that she went to a local pharmacy to find a lotion or cream that would ease the pain after the procedure, but she soon developed permanent scars on her face.

“People sometimes make mistakes, but (on this occasion) I paid a high price,” she told reporters. “I am facing a bigger problem than saggy skin now. I have a lot of trouble with the marks on my face. I feel awful.”

“Not only was my face badly burned, but I had a lot of psychological distress during this period as well,” she added.

The court ruled that the facility pay Ilhan the equivalent of $260 spread out across 10 installments for making the mistake. However, Ilhan’s lawyer called the amount “simply not enough.”

“We think that the penalty for burning a person’s face in a way that leaves obvious marks is not a judicial fine,” said Suleyman Kesici.

Ilhan went to another cosmetic facility to reverse the botched procedure, but it only made the problem worse.


Providers have been known to conduct their personal business during procedures. One of the most notable incidents occurred in March 2021 when a doctor was seen performing surgery on a Zoom call during a virtual traffic hearing.

In 2017, a surgeon was sued for talking on the phone while performing varicose vein surgery on a 70-year-old woman. He later said he was taking a Spanish proficiency test and had to do it during the procedure because no other time was available.

The woman, who speaks Spanish, was under local anesthesia and heard what the surgeon was saying, including mentions of diabetes and blurred vision. She became concerned because she thought the doctor was referring to her own medical condition.

A malpractice suit was later filed against the surgeon. The patient alleges she suffered from emotional distress as a result of his actions.

Experts say there are no federal guidelines in place restricting the use of cell phones in the operating room. Doctors and providers can use their devices freely without facing consequences.

Some may hide their phones in their pockets or a drawer and check them when no one is watching. However, some are calling for these devices to be regulated or banned from the OR altogether.

“Sometimes it’s just stuff like shopping online or checking Facebook. The problem is that it does lead to distraction,” said Dwight Burney, an orthopedic surgeon from Albuquerque.

He said the practice can lead to medical mistakes and malpractice suits. He cited a case from 2011 when an anesthesiologist failed to notice a woman’s dropping oxygen levels for nearly 20 minutes because he was sending text messages. She later died of complications due to his negligence.

“Once we get into or start using our cell phones, we separate ourselves from the reality of where we are,” said Peter Papadakos, a professor of anesthesiology, surgery, neurology, and neurosurgery at the University of Rochester. “It’s self-evident: If you’re staring at a phone, you’re not staring at the monitors.”

Remember to stay focused on the task at hand and keep your phone out of reach. 

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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