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New cosmetic surgery standards require psychological checks

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New safety and quality standards have been introduced to reduce cosmetic surgery risks. This includes a psychological assessment.
cosmetic surgery standards

New safety and quality standards have been introduced to reduce cosmetic surgery risks.

The new rules will impact cosmetic surgeries from “small day procedure clinics through to large health organisations”. However, they do not apply to non-surgical procedures,
like injectables.

It follows “concerning reports of patient harm” in the sector, according to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQH).

Background

ACSQH describes cosmetic surgery as an invasive procedure “to revise or change the appearance” of bodily features. This is “with the dominant purpose of achieving what the patient perceives to be a more desirable appearance.”

Further, a 2022 independent review found there are “no universal minimum standards for education and training in relation to cosmetic surgery”.

It prompted calls from Health Ministers for urgent reforms.

Psychologist check

Under the new standards, a patient’s “general health” must be assessed before they can be referred to a cosmetic surgeon.

Additionally, this includes a physical and psychological assessment “to ensure a person is suitable for surgery”.

The ACSQH standards said assessment results will be used to determine patient goals and develop a care plan “in collaboration with patients, carers and families”.

Pushback

However, the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) raised concerns about the sharing of confidential psychological test results.

ASPS President Dr Nicola Dean said the standards shouldn’t mean hospitals can “look at psychological test results or private patient details of consultations”.

Dean also warned against overloading private hospitals with paperwork. “If they are, these institutions may refuse to host cosmetic surgery and patients may be pushed overseas.”

Understanding risks

The standards are also aimed at better informing patients of the risks associated with cosmetic surgery.

This includes ensuring patients fully understand the risks and financial costs of a procedure to give “informed consent” before it goes ahead.

Practices will also be responsible for ensuring measures are in place to reduce the risk of infection from a procedure, during and after surgery.

Criticism

The ASPS said the standards do not go far enough to ensure minimum requirements to close what it called a “significant gap” in provider qualifications.

“As it is, the standards do not require practitioners performing cosmetic surgery to be qualified surgeons. Cosmetic surgery is real surgery and should only be performed by surgeons,”
Dean said.

Non-surgical procedures

A crackdown on invasive cosmetic procedures follows the development of tighter regulations for the ‘injectables’ industry.

An independent inquiry to improve industry standards made 16 recommendations which were subsequently accepted by the Medical Board of Australia.

This included improving patient consent and pre-procedure consultation and regulations around advertising and influencers.

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