Why is NSW reviewing its plastic surgery clinic regulations?

PUBLISHED 22 Nov 2017

NSW has some of the strongest plastic surgery laws in Australia.

Last year, the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) urged other states and territories to follow NSW's example after new laws were introduced to protect patients undergoing breast augmentations, liposuction and other operations.

The changes mean that medical practitioners can only conduct these surgeries in licensed premises that are held to the same standards as a private hospital.

"This is a long overdue win for patient safety that will help ensure people undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures are afforded the same protections as patients undergoing any other type of invasive of surgery," ASPS Vice-President Dr Gazi Hussain said at the time.

However, a recent death at a beauty clinic in the state means certain regulations could be reviewed.

Breast procedure death leads to review

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard believes regulations for beauty clinics should undergo a review after a woman died during a breast augmentation procedure at a facility in Chippendale in September.

Jean Huang, who was the owner of the Medi Beauty Clinic where the operation took place, went into cardiac arrest after being administered local anaesthetic and breast fillers. She later died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

A Chinese tourist allegedly performed the procedure, despite having no relevant qualifications in Australia.

Details are still murky as to what happened, but a 33-year-old woman has since been charged with manslaughter, causing reckless grievous bodily harm and using a poison to endanger life.

Mr Hazzard told ABC News that beauty therapies do not require registration if they don't enter into any surgical issues.

"The question is – is that a sufficient arrangement?" he stated.

"Clearly, there is a major problem with beauty therapy facilities that involve themselves in doing procedures that perhaps should not be done by them."

Regulatory review supported by opposition

Since Ms Huang's death, the Health Care Complaints Commission has been asked to perform an urgent investigation in conjunction with state police.

A review into plastic surgery seems to have support on both sides of the political divide, with Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord claiming there is room for loopholes to be tightened.

"Sadly, it's an industry where the number of complaints in the health care industry is increasing and, unfortunately, it's an industry that's populated with … cowboys," he told ABC News.

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