Ophthalmic sector attuned to Ahpra crackdown on ‘cosmetic surgeon’ title

Australian Society of Ophthalmologists vice-president Dr Peter Sumich said it remained unclear whether Ahpra and the Medical Council wanted to set qualification standards themselves or leave it to medical schools.

“First of all, we have to define what constitutes a cosmetic surgeon, but Ahpra has left that ambiguity because of this approval process and who will administer it,” he said.

“I don’t think Ahpra is qualified to determine who is qualified, if that makes sense, especially when there are very few doctors among them, most of them are bureaucrats.”

In its submission during the consultation phase, RANZCO said the standards required for surgical procedures should be determined by the agency or college whose curriculum most comprehensively covers the anatomy and management of the body part. concerned, and by any other college that covers the most commonly used techniques. commonly in cosmetic procedures in this region.

“Therefore, for periocular cosmetic surgery, it would fall within the scope of practice of ophthalmologists, oculoplastic surgeons, and plastic surgeons, and for those outside of these specialties, practitioners may seek accreditation for certain procedures from of the two respective colleges, RANZCO and Royal. Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS),” RANZCO said.

Dr. Charles Su is the Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery who has been practicing eyelid, lacrimal duct and orbital surgery for over 25 years in both the public and private sectors.

Doctor Charles Su.

He said that regardless of who performs surgery, whether for cosmetic reasons or not, the public would expect someone to have full specialist training in procedures performed on that part of the body. body and has received full and formal training in the anatomy of that site.

“As ophthalmologists, our specialist school is the leading body that imparts this to the region of the eye, eyelids, orbit and lacrimal system. It is clear from the latest report that there is no such guarantee for cosmetic surgery. Any move towards proper accreditation is good, but I’m sure there’s still a long way to go,” he said.

In a joint statement, RACS, the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and the Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and

Neck Surgeons (ASOHNS) said any “grandfathering” of existing cosmetic surgeons would need to be carefully considered under the new approval framework as some unscrupulous operators may continue to operate.

“It would also take years to implement. What can be done quickly is to restrict the title of surgeon to those who are registered in a surgical specialty,” they said.

Dr. Robert Sheen, president of ASAPS, said that many so-called “cosmetic surgeons” use various training programs as proof of expertise, but some of them require virtually no specific surgical training.

Ahpra responds

In other recommendations, Ahpra will establish a targeted application unit of cosmetic surgery – with an immediate injection of $4.5 million.

It will also impose a ban on testimonials in cosmetic surgery advertising because they are “likely to mislead, deceive and trivialize risk”.

Martin Flecher. Image: Ahpra.

Medical Council chair Dr Anne Tonkin said it was clear stronger action was needed now, but warned that setting the standard would be a highly contentious issue.

“There are very different opinions about the qualifications that ensure safe care. Patient safety will be our primary focus as we consult with our stakeholders and build endorsement,” she said.

“A scope of practice approval will set standards and clarify cosmetic surgery training and qualifications. This will allow the consumer to choose, identifying who is trained and qualified, and who is not.

Ahpra CEO Mr Martin Fletcher said he was “appalled by the tragic stories of patients who have been harmed by doctors who have taken advantage of them”.

“We want everyone who chooses to have cosmetic surgery to be better informed and protected. We want doctors who perform cosmetic surgery to be trained to safety standards. We want the public to feel confident that they will be well taken care of and, if things go wrong, that they will be supported and their concerns addressed,” he said.

“We will make full use of our legal powers to better protect consumers who choose cosmetic surgery. Registered practitioners in the industry can expect unrelenting focus.

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