The NSW government is the first to introduce legislation to protect patients seeking cosmetic surgery from unqualified doctors.
It has been a long time coming, but finally we are seeing some action on this front. The troubling part of the story is that it took a series of near fatal events at popular Sydney cosmetic surgery clinic and a scathing report from the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission before we have seen any willingness (on the part of government) to act.
So what does this mean for patients right now?
Well, for NSW patients it means quite a bit. For the other states (as it stands), it doesn’t mean much yet.
At the core of this issue is the need to protect patients from the fact that any doctor with general registration can claim to be a “cosmetic surgeon”.
By restricting cosmetic/aesthetic surgery to facilities that are licensed (in essence, this means surgery can only be performed in a proper hospital, and not in a doctor’s office or unlicensed procedure rooms), the possibility of unqualified non-surgeons being able to perform surgery is limited. Because licensed facilities must have accreditation processes that ensure that any practitioner allowed to operate there is “qualified”, then we can (somewhat indirectly) be more confident in both the qualification and ability of any doctor performing cosmetic surgical procedures.
Of course, it isn’t fool-proof, and as yet the other states haven’t followed suit. As always (and I admit I seem to say this very frequently) it remains a case of “buyer beware”. Know your surgeon, don’t rush into a decision, check his/her qualifications and be sure that the surgeon you are paying your hard-earned dollars to is the right person for the job.
We’ll keep updating on this as the issue progresses.