Are cosmetic surgery customers at risk of medical negligence in Australia?

Published 22 Oct 2018

From liposuction to botox, it seems Aussies can't get enough of cosmetic surgery. In the last year alone, more than 500,000 cosmetic procedures were performed, making Australia the country with the most cosmetic surgery operations per capita, according to the Australian College of Cosmetic Surgery.

However, despite the regularity of procedures, things are still going wrong when people go under the knife, leading more and more Australians to claim for medical negligence.

Qualified or not - does it even matter?

In Australia 'cosmetic surgery' is not yet a recognised speciality, nor is the title 'cosmetic surgeon' protected under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. This means consumers planning a procedure must be aware that medical professionals using the title 'cosmetic surgeon' do not necessarily hold a specialist qualification. Additionally, they may not have received adequate training before performing surgeries.

This rule has meant that many Australians have suffered as a result of poor professional misconduct when going under the knife.

Major misconduct in Australia's cosmetic clinics

A class action brought against Australia's largest cosmetic surgery provider, The Cosmetic Institute (TCI), was one of the most prominent cosmetic procedure cases in Australian media in the last year. The case, filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court, claimed that TCI breached its duty of care to numerous patients by adopting a one-size-fits-all approach when performing breast augmentations.

The women involved were left with serious complications, including lung punctures, seizures, physical disfigurements and various infections. TCI denied all allegations and have since attempted a rebrand to attract a new range of clients.

Unfortunately, the TCI scandal is not the only example of medical negligence in cosmetic clinics. Every month, other cases comes to light, showcasing the risks that medical professionals are failing to warn patients of.

What is being done to lower the risk of medical negligence?

Thankfully, such problems haven't gone unnoticed. After the death of a women who underwent a non-surgical breast augmentation at a NSW clinic in late 2017, the state government implemented the NSW Report on the Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Procedures. Within this document are nine recommendations that hope to strengthen existing regulations and make it safer for consumers who are going under the knife. These include:

  • Creating and implementing an offence for a medical practitioner to provide prescribed services and treatments in an unlicensed facility.
  • Keeping the definition of cosmetic surgery under consideration to ensure that it remains appropriate.
  • Increasing the penalties for breaches of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act and Regulation.

These measures hope to reduce the risk associated with Australia's cosmetic procedures, and ensure people can gain the compensation they deserve should something go wrong.

If you're a victim of medical negligence and want to see what damages you're entitled to, get in touch with the team here at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today.