Cosmetic Surgeons Claims of Board Certification to be banned in California

Posted on Thursday, 20 December 2018

From 1 January 2019, Cosmetic Surgeons in California will not be able to claim they are ‘Board Certified.’ The Medical Board of California voted unanimously to ban doctors who have not completed the requisite Board Certification through the American Board of Medical Specialties from claiming so.

Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) President, Dr Naveen Somia said this is good news for patients in California. It’s a move that we would welcome here as an outcome of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Ministers’ National Law Review.

Board Certification in America is the industry-standard benchmark required of specialist medical practitioners.  Doctors achieve board certification in surgery in the United States by completing accredited surgical training and the necessary exams.

“This is likened to the situation in Australia, and New Zealand with doctors only becoming accredited surgeons after completing the Australian Medical Council (AMC) surgical training program through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).  Only then is a Surgeon allowed to register with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as a specialist surgeon,” Dr Somia said.

The AMC is a Government-appointed body that accredits specialist surgical training program to ensure that standards of education, training and assessment of the medical profession are met.  The AMC is the gatekeeper for the recognition of new medical specialties, and it is a rigorously controlled process.  It also stipulates which medical titles are legally protected.  RACS is the only AMC accredited provider of training to surgeons in Australia and New Zealand.

A Specialist Plastic Surgeon is someone who has completed a Fellowship with the RACS. They are then legally entitled to use this protected title and are registered by the Australian government as a Specialist.

“In stark contrast, the Australian health system allows any doctor who has finished their basic medical training to use the term ‘Cosmetic Surgeon.’ Often misleading patients into believing they have completed surgical training.

“Having doctors parading as surgeons and competing for patients on price is a recipe for disaster.  Already we have seen the consequences of patients being harmed in this disastrous situation. Sadly, there have even been deaths at the hands of doctors performing invasive medical procedures, well outside their scope of practice,” Dr Somia said.

Dr Somia said it’s essential doctors are truthful in their advertising and that they are beholden to the rules.

“The fortunate situation in Australia is that the rules are already written.  The AHPRA Guidelines stipulate that doctors should only be advertising themselves as per their registered title.  What we would like to see is greater enforcement of the AHPRA Guidelines to ensure patient safety.

“Patients would be able to decipher between doctors and the qualifications they claim to have if everyone played by the rules and only advertised themselves as per their AHPRA accredited title.

“Right now, it’s an absolute minefield for patients, and many are getting hurt in the process.

“What patients need and what patients deserve is protection from people parading as surgeons and offering their unaccredited surgical skills along with the potential to cause disfigurement and death. This is a serious issue that requires urgent intervention,” Dr Somia said.


Media contact: Julia Power, National PR and Marketing Manager, 0414 276 990


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