The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) has applauded the Supreme Court of Australia’s decision earlier this week to allow around 1,000 women to lodge a class action against The Cosmetic Institute (TCI), saying ‘Cosmetic Sweatshop’ style set-ups have no place in cosmetic surgery as they risk patient safety.
The death of Jean Huang in August 2017 highlighted the extremely concerning situation in Australia of doctors being able to call themselves “cosmetic surgeons” and the large number of practitioners and clinics operating and providing aesthetic treatments and procedures without appropriate qualifications, knowledge or patient safety measures. Dr Naveen Somia, President of ASAPS says in their press release, “Compounding this issue is the loophole that allows doctors who are not registered by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as ‘Surgeons’ to overstate their qualifications and perform invasive cosmetic surgery on unsuspecting patients.”
Dr Somia went on to say, “The aftermath, as we see from this class action, is a surge in near death complications by un-registered surgeons performing invasive cosmetic surgery on patients who were misled on the various advertising platforms about the real qualifications of these doctors. Had these doctors who worked for TCI been beholden to a scope of practice that kept their skills within a realm of safety aligned with their accredited training and had they only used their AHPRA approved title, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Any surgeon who performs plastic or cosmetic surgery should undergo years of accredited by the Australian Medical Council and gain the entitlement to use FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons) after their name. This is what patients should be looking for when choosing or allowing any surgeon to perform any type of surgical procedure on them.
ASAPS says “In the interests of patient safety, the regulators need to enforce the scope of practice of medical practitioners and that all providers are required only to use the approved title the Medical Board of Australia has granted them. This means the term ‘cosmetic surgeon’ should be banned. The title serves no purpose other than to confuse and mislead patients.” Dr Somia says that doctors calling themselves cosmetic surgeons with no accredited surgical qualifications and not registered with AHPRA were targeting vulnerable and unsuspecting patients and putting patient safety at risk.
There have been so many cases of botched surgical outcomes and procedures for many years gone by, and some have been highlighted over the last few years, so it’s only just now that we are finally seeing the government step up and start taking notice. Their recent inquiry into the issue is a massive step in acknowledging that serious action needs to be taken on reducing patient risk.
Dr Somia agrees. He says, “What patients need and what patients deserve is protection from people parading as surgeons and offering their unaccredited surgical skills along with the potential to cause disfigurement and death. This is a serious issue that requires urgent intervention.”
We’ll keep you posted on any news about the TCI class action, and let’s hope it sends a warning to other doctors and practitioners performing procedures in a way that can cause harm to patients.