With the number of women opting to go under the knife for breast augmentation surgery ever increasing does their need to be greater regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry?
In this article we outline why and how the New South Wales government are reviewing their cosmetic surgery laws, explore some proposed guidelines put forward by the Medical Board of Australia, as well as detail what options and rights are open to you here in Queensland should you have suffered personal injury from a cosmetic procedure.
The number of Australians heading overseas for cheap cosmetic surgery is on the rise despite the repeated warnings about the risks involved. A report released 2 years ago estimated that 15,000 Australians travelled overseas for cosmetic surgery each year, a figure that has now likely increased.
But is it any safer here in Australia and what practices are in place to ensure the continued safety of the cosmetic surgery industry?
The New South Wales Health Department is currently reviewing their Private Health Facilities Regulation Act which details which facilities are licenced. Under the Act the Private Health Care Unit can investigate complaints relating to health facilities, or any allegations that unlicensed facilities are carrying out procedures that should only be carried out in licensed premises.
The reviews comes in response to the revelation that several young women were rushed to hospital after suffering cardiac arrests while undergoing breast augmentations at The Cosmetic Institute in Sydney. The New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission is now investigating these incidents, as well as investigating whether The Cosmetic Institute is following proper procedure with regards to only using anaesthetic they are licenced to administer.
The Medical Board of Australia also recently met to discuss cosmetic procedures and has identified a set of proposed guidelines for registered medical practitioners who provide cosmetic medical or surgical procedures. The guidelines propose:
- a seven-day cooling off period for all adults before procedures
- a three-month cooling off period before procedures for all under 18s, along with mandatory assessment by a registered psychologist or psychiatrist
- explicit guidance on informed patient consent, including clear information about risks and possible complications
- explicit responsibility for post-operative care by the treating practitioner, including emergency facilities when sedation or analgesia is involved
- mandatory face-to-face consultations before prescribing schedule 4 (prescription only) cosmetic injectables
- detailed written information about costs and
- limits on where cosmetic procedures can be performed, to manage risk to patients.
The current options open to you should you have suffered personal injury from a cosmetic procedure are as follows;
1. Contact the surgeon.
If your problem is minor you may like to contact your surgeon in an attempt to negotiate a solution with them.
2. Make a complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO).
The OHO is Queensland’s health service complaints agency. They are an independent statutory body that (among other functions):
- Investigates complaints about health services and health service providers, including registered and unregistered health practitioners ;
- Decides what action to take in relation to those complaints and, in certain instances, take immediate action to protect the safety of the public.
More information is available, including how to make a complaint, via the Office of the Health Ombudsman’s website www.oho.qld.gov.au.
3. Bring a claim for medical negligence.
In Australia we have laws that place a duty of care on cosmetic surgery practitioners to take proper care when treating their patients. If a provider does not treat you with reasonable care and skill and, as a result, causes you injury you may bring a claim for negligence against them.
In Queensland medical negligence claims are brought under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002. To be successful in your claim you must prove the following:
- That there was a failure to meet an appropriate standard of care in providing the medical services; and
- That as a result of that failure you suffered personal injury.
You may also be able to make a claim if your practitioner failed to warn you of the possible adverse outcome/s of the proposed treatment.