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Cosmetic surgery in the news again

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority recently released a paper canvassing options for regulating cosmetic surgery.

The consultation paper includes a regulatory impact statement setting out the costs and benefits of regulating the highest risk elements of cosmetic surgery - securing informed consent and the responsibilities of doctors for post-operative care when they carry out procedures in their rooms using analgesia or sedation.

These were key issues in the report of the first Inquiry into Cosmetic Surgery in Australia, which I wrote as executive officer to the inquiry committee chaired by Merrilyn Walton.

The inquiry found a high level of satisfaction among consumers of cosmetic surgery, and very few complaints registered with health complaints commissions. The professional indemnity insurers found cosmetic surgery was generally a risk for small compensation claims, under $50,000 with few more serious injuries or adverse events.

But things can go badly wrong, and people's lives are put at risk when unlicenced doctors conduct procedures in their rooms which are not licenced premises. The 1999 Inquiry recommended changes to regulations on day procedure centres but successive government's haven't acted on it.

The Board favours stronger guidelines rather than regulations. Let's see what the views of doctors and the public are in coming months. Submissions are due in May 2015.

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