In Part 1 of Costhetics two-part look at consumers’ rights when cosmetic surgery goes wrong, we explored why talking to your surgeon should be your first course of action. That being said, we know that some problems can’t be resolved amicably, nor should they be.
The laws in Australia allow for a surprising number of people to perform cosmetic enhancement procedures, and some of them have no business doing so. They may be badly trained or unskilled, and when they cause injury to a patient, they need to be taken to task.
If you believe that your practitioner has behaved in a way that is unethical or unprofessional, there are a number of recommended steps you can choose to take that will help you and prevent others from being injured.
- Report the behaviour to another physician who works with your physician or who has treated you.
- If you are at a hospital ora group practice, find out if there is a grievance mechanism in place for patients to lodge complaints.
- Contact the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the body that addresses cosmetic surgery complaints lodged by consumers. They are empowered to take disciplinary action at many levels:
“Members of the public can make a notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) about the conduct, health and performance of a practitioner or student. Activities considered as breaches of professional conduct are categorised as professional misconduct, unprofessional conduct, and notifiable conduct. Practitioners are health impaired if they have a physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder that detrimentally affects, or is likely to detrimentally affect their capacity to practise their profession. The professional performance of a registered practitioner is defined to be unsatisfactory if it is below the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience.” – Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons
For more information and to download their complaint handling form and procedure documents, you can visit the AHPRA website.
Additionally, there is an office for each Australian state and territory to address complaints about practitioners. The list is available at the ASPS website.
In the UK, Patients are Winning Large Awards from Doctors
According to the Medical Defence Union,
“…breast surgery, facelifts, eyelid operations, nose reductions and weight-loss procedures account for 80% of the rising number of legal actions, with blunders leading to damages payouts of more than £500,000.” – The Guardian
The Guardian further notes that compensation claims for cosmetic surgery blunders are upheld in 45% of cases. This is in comparison with 30% of cases for medical compensation claims in general.
Perhaps it’s because the mistake is often so easy to see.