Regulators move on the cosmetic surgery sector

A major review of Australia’s burgeoning cosmetic surgery industry was announced after health regulators claimed “significant patient safety concerns” had been raised.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Medical Board of Australia said on Tuesday they would target patient safety and seek to strengthen regulations to keep pace with the rapidly changing industry.

The role of advertising and social media, current codes of conduct and how the multi-million dollar industry handles complaints will also be examined by the AHPRA, led by outgoing Queensland health ombudsperson Andrew Brown.

Public consultations will begin early next year with a report expected to be completed by mid-2022.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said the marketing practices and methods of some doctors in the cosmetic surgery industry raised “ethical dilemmas.”

“There are some disturbing characteristics of the cosmetics industry that distinguish it from conventional medical practice,” he said.

Mr Fletcher said they include “corporate business models that are supposed to put profit above patient safety, no medical need for cosmetic procedures, limited factual information for consumers, and exponential growth in social media. that focus on the benefits and minimize the risks “.

“The cosmetic practice has rapidly grown as a multi-million dollar entrepreneurial industry with marketing practices and methods that raise ethical dilemmas,” he said.

Currently, anyone with a basic medical degree can call themselves a “cosmetic surgeon” in Australia.

But the AHPRA hailed a decision by state health ministers who are currently consulting on possible changes to national laws to protect the title of “surgeon”.

The review will look in more detail at the cooperation between different authorities – such as state health departments that authorize private cosmetic surgeries – with the aim of preventing more problems and protecting patients.

The review comes after the AHPRA this week revealed that it had received 313 notifications of cosmetic surgeries that had a complication or injury in the past three years, with complaints against 183 surgeons.

But the president of the Medical Board of Australia, Anne Tonkin, feared there was a “weak culture of safety and reporting” in the cosmetics industry.

“To ensure patient safety, we really need to understand why these practitioners don’t always share their patient safety concerns with us in a timely manner,” she said.

Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons president Dan Kennedy praised the review.

“To hold a medical license is to hold a position of privilege and trust and it has been shown that too many cosmetic surgery practitioners (…) mentioned.

“Sanctions must be strengthened to constitute a real deterrent against risky behavior.

“We see too many practitioners putting patient safety first and irresponsibly using social media to advertise their activities in ways that we believe are misleading consumers. “

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