“Cowboys” informed: the reform of cosmetic surgery hailed

"Cowboys"  in notice: the reform of cosmetic surgery hailed

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency (Ahpra) and the Medical Board of Australia have welcomed “the strong decisions by Australian health ministers to make cosmetic surgery safer”.

Health ministers agreed to the following reforms at the last meeting: prevent unqualified doctors from describing themselves as cosmetic “surgeons”; ensure that anyone performing a cosmetic procedure has the appropriate qualifications; limit surgery to properly accredited facilities with minimum health and safety standards; prohibit doctors from using patient testimonials for cosmetic surgery, including on social media; and better informing patients about the risks and their rights so that they can make an informed decision about any treatment.

A statement from Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said work to implement these reforms begins immediately, with the Medical Board of Australia ready to act on: better cosmetic surgery providers accredited by adding an “area of ​​practice” to medical records; a crackdown on the use of testimonials and social media; strengthen orientation and better inform doctors in the sector; and the establishment of a complaints hotline.

The Australian Healthcare Safety and Quality Commission has been tasked with developing specific safety and quality standards for where and how cosmetic surgery can be performed. The Commission and the Medical Committee have been asked to report to the Ministers of Health within two months.

Butler said: “I welcome the decisive action agreed by health ministers to rein in the cosmetic cowboys.

“These cosmetic cowboys have been rolling around unchecked for years, and the previous government simply did nothing to clean up an industry that has come to resemble the Wild West.

“Australians deserve to have confidence in the safety and quality of the cosmetic surgery industry and these changes will give them that.

“I thank the brave women and men who have spoken out about their experiences and shed light on this appalling behavior. This has been crucial in finally bringing much needed action.”

Medical board chair Dr. Anne Tonkin said cosmetic surgery practice area approval, along with title protection, would help consumers make informed decisions.

“Protecting the title of surgeon will limit who can call themselves a surgeon and make it easier for consumers to know who is trained and qualified in surgery. This is an important step forward.

“Consumers who choose cosmetic surgery have the right to know who they can trust. When these changes are made, only qualified surgeons will be able to call themselves surgeons. Approval from cosmetic surgery physicians will clearly define who has met high training standards, so consumers can turn to them for safe care,” Tonkin said.

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said: “We welcome the support from health ministers for the recommendations of the independent review and the actions we have recently announced.”

Last week, the board and Ahpra announced a continued ban on cosmetic surgery testimonials because they are inherently misleading and misleading, Fletcher said. We respect ministers’ decision to uphold the ban more broadly, he said.

“We are also pleased that ministers have committed to working jointly on facility licensing and other gaps that pose a risk to consumers, as broader industry reforms are underway,” he said. he said in a statement.

Ahpra said it will establish a Cosmetic Surgery Enforcement Unit, supported by an investment of $4.5 million for additional resources, to work with the Medical Council to:

  • Set clear standards: Ahpra wants to make it easier for consumers to know who is trained and qualified to perform cosmetic surgery safely. As the review recommends, this will create an area of ​​practice approval in cosmetic surgery. A doctor’s listing on the public register will indicate whether they have met the clear standards for cosmetic surgery set by the Australian Medical Council and the Medical Board of Australia. This will be bolstered by the ministers’ decision to change the law to protect the title ‘surgeon’. This means that soon only doctors with CMA-accredited qualifications will be legally allowed to call themselves cosmetic surgeons.
  • The crackdown on advertising: Enforce the ban on testimonials that mislead and mislead consumers and trivialize risk, by cracking down on advertising and social media used to promote cosmetic surgery. Ahpra will update and enforce advertising restrictions and use new technologies to audit social media, supported by stricter regulatory measures.
  • Fight against under-declaration: Silence allows bad practices to go unchecked and harms patients. No doctor wants that. Reporting of harm suffered by patients in the cosmetics industry will be encouraged, so that the agency can act more quickly to ensure patient safety. Ahpra will write to all doctors in Australia so they know what to report and when, and why it is the right thing to do. Patients will be safer when doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals understand their professional responsibility to report unsafe practices.
  • Strengthen the voice of patients: A campaign will be launched to remind consumers that honest disclosure to regulators is legal and their right when things go wrong. A confidential hotline will be set up for cosmetic complaints, in order to reassure people who are currently too afraid to report harm.
  • Strengthen and strengthen existing guidelines: The Medical Commission will strengthen its guidelines for medical practitioners performing aesthetic and surgical procedures. Ahpra will step up review and enforcement of the council’s code of conduct requirements and other guidelines for physicians who work in the cosmetics industry. Practitioners will be required to inform their cosmetic surgery patients of their enrollment type as part of informed consent processes. This will let patients know if their doctor is not registered as a specialist.
  • Changing how we handle complaints: The treatment of cosmetic surgery complaints will be modified in order to remove dangerous doctors more quickly. The experience will be centralized and a national team of regulatory experts will be created to investigate complaints and make decisions on cosmetic complaints. National decision-making will be led by Medical Council Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, supported by a team of expert investigators from Ahpra staff, supported by co-opted external regulatory expertise in forensic investigations and review social media.
  • Work with others: The agency looks forward to working with state and territory health authorities to close current gaps and address inconsistencies in areas such as facility licensing and drug and poison rules, which are beyond our authority and control. These issues fall outside the powers and remit of the National Scheme or the regulation of practitioners and contribute to patient harm. The agency looks forward to action by the courts to resolve these issues.

Image caption: iStockphoto.com/FG Trade


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