“The Parliament of NSW Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) issued a media release last week on the unsafe and illegal cosmetic procedures being performed by unregistered and unqualified health practitioners at some cosmetic and beauty clinics. They are extremely concerned about the harmful and detrimental outcomes and side effects that are ruining the lives of the patients at the receiving end of their reckless hands.”
The last few years has seen an increasing number of patients walk out of second rate beauty salons with less than desirable results, in some cases disfigurement. In a few more tragic cases patients who haven’t walked out of the salon at all, and have died as a result of receiving treatments and procedures from practitioners that just aren’t skilled enough or prepared in the case of complications. Only last year there was the tragic case of the beauty salon owner Janet Huang who died after an overdose of anaesthesia and painkillers was administered intravenously while undergoing a procedure to augment her breasts with fillers. Then there was the group of women who brought a class action against The Cosmetic Institute last year for alleged negligence during breast augmentation procedures that left them with life threatening complications. These are just two examples in a growing number of cases.
Dr Mark Magnusson, President of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said “The cosmetic space needs to be regulated, and we hope that with NSW taking the lead, the other Australian states will follow. ASAPS supports any initiative that improves patient safety.”
As consumers ourselves, we think it’s fantastic that the NSW government has recognised the need to warn patients of the importance of researching your practitioner before having any cosmetic procedure. It is long overdue!
Dr Magnusson also stressed that “Even procedures that might seem commonplace, straightforward and simple have risk and the potential for complications. We have seen this play out with extreme consequences in the last 12 months in Sydney with Ms Janet Huang.” He explains that “The injectable medications commonly considered for non-surgical rejuvenation are S4 medications. This means regulations require a script and doctor oversight. The procedures should be carried out in appropriate facilities with the necessary equipment to deal with unexpected but rarely severe complications and with practitioners that have the appropriate training.
“There are numerous examples of this not being performed in line with these appropriate regulations. Unfortunately if no one checks and there is no enforcement of the regulations some unscrupulous operators are placing patients at risk and this is not being addressed.”
This follows on from towards the end of last year when the HCCC issued a public warning of the unsafe and illegal practices in Beauty and Cosmetic Clinics. The Sydney Morning Herald also reported last year that NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has vowed, “the crackdown would focus on doctors who “dressed themselves up as cosmetic surgeons” with inappropriate or no qualifications.” However, we are concerned that while there continues to be increased recognition of the need to address the public safety issue with regards to cosmetic treatments and procedures, little action is actually being done to follow through.
Up until now, people really don’t know what to do if things go wrong. They’re often scared to go back to the salon where they had the procedure or treatment, and aren’t really sure of their rights. Often the only place patients feel comfortable expressing their dissatisfaction is on closed Facebook groups such as those Plastic Surgery Hub facilitates. And, it is all well and good for the government and factitioning bodies to recognise the issue, but exactly what is being done to implement and enforce standards and regulations? Money grabbing practitioners and clinics continue to operate and put lives at risk and the government needs to act now.
The HCCC have vowed to look at the framework for the complaints procedures about cosmetic health services to see what changes need to be made. They will be considering whether the powers and functions of the Commission are sufficiently adequate to deal with complaints – they also intend to ensure the public are aware of their rights and where they can complain to if they are not happy with their results, practitioner or clinic. Again, we are extremely pleased that we might finally see some action being taken to stop these dodgy operators not only ruining people’s lives, but tarnishing the image of the cosmetic industry as a whole.
“It is encouraging to see that the NSW Govt has recognised this problem and is taking steps to improve patient safety.” added Dr Magnusson.
Let’s hope that the HCCC follow through on their pledge to fix this billion dollar industry in order to safeguard patients who continue to be at the hands of their practitioners all too often without repercussions.