Dodgy cosmetic surgeons targeted by health ministers at COAG
Australiens hälsoministerium har enhälligt kommit överens om att strama bestämmelserna för kosmetisk kirurgi och riktar sig till läkare som kallar sig ”kosmetiska kirurger” utan specialist utbildning eller ackreditering.
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At the COAG meeting on Friday, federal health minister Greg Hunt said a new national approach would protect patients seeking cosmetic procedures.
”They will have better advice, better protection and better standards that will be dealt with through the medical board of Australia,” Mr Hunt said.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the crackdown would focus on doctors who ”dressed themselves up as cosmetic surgeons” with inappropriate or no qualifications.
Feederal Health Minister Greg Hunt said a new national approach would protect patients seeking cosmetic procedures. Photo: AAP
”It needs to be carefully considered so as not to have any negative impacts on doctors who are lawfully entitled to call themselves surgeons,” Mr Hazzard said.
”Agreement will be referred to the Medical Board [of Australia] to investigate do what would be appropriate ways to safeguard consumers.”
President of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons Dr Mark Magnusson applauded the decision to strengthen control on specialist titles, but said regulations alone would not protect patients.
”They must be enforced, which is not what we’re seeing at the moment,” Dr Magnusson said.
”Cosmetic surgeon’ does not mean anything … there is no minimum standard of training and there is nothing stopping anyone with a basic medical degree who wants to go into cosmetic work,” Dr Magnusson said.
The title ”cosmetic surgeon” is not recognised as an accredited specialty by Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority or the Australian Medical Council.
”We need appropriate guidelines and benchmarks about who can perform what,” Dr Magnusson said.
”In theory, a GP could just hang around a clinic that does breast implants for a while and then start doing it themselves.”
AHPRA’s current guidelines for advertising qualifications already stipulate that practitioners must be accredited and ”approved for the purposes of registration, including specialist registration and endorsement of registration”.
It is ”essentially a breach of the code for anyone to be advertising themselves as a ‘Cosmetic Surgeon’, as medical practitioners cannot register or licence themselves as such”.
”AHPRA needs the resources to police their current rules,” Dr Magnusson said.
Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons – the only body accredited to train surgeons in Australia – must have completed eight to 12 years of specialist training.
But Dr Magnusson said doctors would often apply for visiting rights at hospitals with a ”whole stream of experience” listed in their application that counted for little.
”If you look closely, all they’ve done is two- to three-day courses that altogether amounts to about three months of work,” he said.
On Friday Dr Magnusson said he had already operated on two patients that morning to fix breast implants inserted by under-qualified doctors.
In September the death of Jean Huang – owner of Medi Beauty Clinic in Chippendale – sparked a major NSW government review of cosmetic procedures regulations.
Ms Huang went into cardiac arrest after a she was allegedly injected with a local anaesthetic and breast fillers by unqualified staff at the clinic.
The Health Care Complaints Commission issued a public warning about unsafe and illegal practices at beauty and cosmetic clinics.
Dr Magnusson said it took Ms Huang’s death for authorities to pay attention to the endemic problem that has previously been dismissed as a turf war between specialties.
”This is about patient safety and making it easy for them to identify who is appropriately trained to perform [cosmetic procedures],” he said.
Over the past two months NSW Health as raided 10 cosmetic clinics, according to a department spokesperson.
Officers with NSW Health Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit has seized botulinum toxin (botox) and dermal filler injections, vitamin injections, very high strength lidocaine local anaesthetic creams, antibiotics and antivirals to treat herpes.
Two Victorian medical practitioners were referred to AHPRA in late October for their roles in supplying a range of prescription medicines to cosmetic clinics in Sydney.
”Investigations are continuing and NSW Health will continue to inspect cosmetic clinics we suspect may be breaching the law,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Since March certain cosmetic surgeries including any procedure that modifies a person’s appearance or body and involves anaesthesia must only be carried out in a licensed private health facility in NSW.
The tighter regulation applies to a range of procedures including tummy tuck, breast, buttock and penis augmentations, calf implants, liposuction, necklift, rhinoplasty and labiaplasty.
”Regulations in which the public are able to clearly differentiate between appropriately trained individuals and those who have not had the necessary training is welcome,” said the president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons Dr Mark Ashton.