A year after new rules were proposed to provide tighter regulation of those performing cosmetic surgery, the landscape of cosmetic surgery remains plagued with mishaps and patients seeking legal and medical help to reverse what can often be devastating and life changing effects.
Plastic surgery is complex, and fraught with risks. It is therefore illogical that it is one of the least regulated medical industries globally. Patients undergoing treatment in NHS Hospitals should be assured by the benefits of the stringent standards imposed by the Health Service, although this of course will never fully eliminate the risk of things going wrong.
However, more and more of us are turning to private, high street surgeries for what are thought to be “minor” treatments such as dermal fillers, tooth whitening and treatment of skin conditions. Despite the increase in demand, more or less anybody who is able to obtain the necessary equipment can perform this service without any formal regulation, quality control or insurance. The result being that your “surgeon” could have the equipment in one hand, and the manual in the other whilst performing your operation. Even more invasive treatment that requires a formally trained surgeon could be performed by a doctor without any formal training or expertise in plastic surgery.
Clarke Willmott has a wealth of experience with cosmetic surgery cases; examples including achieving a settlement of £35,000 for a lady who was not adequately informed of the risks of her breast augmentation surgery and where her skin was unable to heal properly due to the extent of the surgery; and a claim for £20,000 for a client whose wound did not properly heal due to a history of smoking, again this risk was not explained to the client before consenting to the procedure.
As the campaign goes on for better regulation of the plastic surgery industry, it is hoped that patients will have access to safer and better quality treatment, and an easier path for remedy if things go wrong. Just some of the rules campaigned for by the government review released in February 2014 include:
- Banning of discounts and financial incentives to lure patients into high street practices;
- Requirement for Insurance of those performing cosmetic treatments in the hope that quality treatment will be rewarded in the form of lower insurance premiums;
- Increased access to assistance when things go wrong, with a government body such as the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman having wide powers to investigate and impose sanctions upon negligent service providers.
It remains to be seen if the above can be achieved, but in the meantime, all patients seeking private cosmetic health treatment are being advised to use practitioners who follow the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons Code of Practice. This can in no way guarantee a safe and successful procedure, but this should ensure that you receive appropriate advice and information relating to your surgery, and the correct amount of time to consider your options.
If you have a concern arising out of cosmetic surgery or treatment contact James Edmondson in Clarke Willmott’s specialist Clinical Negligence team, on 0345 209 1491 or by email James.Edmondson@clarkewillmott.com.