In November 2021, an external and independent review was commissioned by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the Medical Board of Australia to examine issues of patient safety and the regulation of practitioners performing cosmetic surgery.

The Review confirms that there are risks currently posed to patients under the existing regulatory framework and calls for action to address patient safety.

This comes after Turner Freeman commenced a class action against The Cosmetic Institute in 2017, and other concerning reports that have highlighted the dangers of undergoing invasive cosmetic surgery procedures by medical practitioners without specialist surgical training.

The final report has now been released and includes 16 welcome and much needed recommendations aimed at improving patient safety in the cosmetic surgery industry.  The recommendations include:

  1. Minimum standards around the level of education, training, qualifications and experience of medical practitioners performing cosmetic surgery;
  2. Strengthened regulation around, and stronger action against, inappropriate advertising of elective cosmetic surgery procedures including breaches on social media;
  3. Changes around how cosmetic surgery complaints and notifications are managed.

“One of Ahpra and the Medical Board’s key functions is to receive and manage notifications about the performance, conduct and health of medical practitioners, including taking disciplinary action against them when it is necessary to protect the community. To take disciplinary action, Ahpra and the Medical Board must first receive notifications. Notwithstanding that the National Law places an obligation on registered health practitioners to make notifications in certain circumstances (including where they observe that a medical practitioner is placing the public at risk of harm), the review found that there is a significant underreporting of safety issues by registered health practitioners and employers in the cosmetic surgery sector. The review recommended that Ahpra and the Medical Board review and enhance its educational material for practitioners about making mandatory and voluntary notifications, and undertake a targeted education campaign in relation to making notifications aimed at the cosmetic surgery sector, including other health practitioners who may subsequently treat cosmetic surgery patients (e.g. emergency department staff).”*

Unfortunately, for patients undergoing cosmetic surgery in Australia, there are currently no minimum standards for education, training and qualifications of the medical practitioners offering and providing the surgery.

“In these circumstances, consumers are largely left on their own when it comes to selecting a practitioner to perform cosmetic surgery, having to sift through a plethora of advertising and marketing material and try to make sense of numerous qualifications, in an attempt to identify a qualified and competent practitioner.”*

The report, titled Independent review of the regulation of medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery, is available here.

Get in touch with us

If you or anyone you know has suffered as a result of a cosmetic surgery negligence, please contact our medical negligence team on 13 43 63.

At Turner Freeman, we have specialist medical negligence lawyers who will assess your case and provide personalised advice regarding your legal entitlements. Our medical negligence lawyers are located across NSW including in our offices in Parramatta, Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle and Toronto.

*AHPRA – Report – Independent Review Overview.