Patients put at risk when doctors without surgical accreditation perform surgery

Posted on Monday, 9 December 2019

According to new research* released today by the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), 92 per cent of Australians agree that a patient’s safety is put at risk when a doctor performs surgery without surgical accreditation.

ASAPS President, Dr Naveen Somia, said this finding is proof that people are very concerned about the effects on patient safety by doctors who are not formally accredited in surgery performing invasive surgical operations.

“This public sentiment puts the spotlight on the current ‘loophole’ where doctors not registered as Surgeons by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), Australia’s National Medical Regulatory Agency, go about advertising themselves as such and perform cosmetic surgery.

“This research is further evidence that patient safety needs bolstering by restricting the use of the title of Surgeon to doctors officially registered as Specialist Surgeons by AHPRA.

“ASAPS believes that by restricting the title Surgeon to doctors who are AHPRA registered Specialist Surgeons would help patients make an informed choice and separate the Surgeons from those who are not.  And, according to our research, the majority of Australians agree,” Dr Somia said.

Ninety-three per cent of Australians agree that it would be easier for patients to separate the Surgeons from the doctors if medical professionals were only to use their AHPRA title.

The research found that 77 per cent of Australians agree banning the title of cosmetic Surgeon would further help patients separate the doctors from the Surgeons.

Dr Somia said this is logical, as the title cosmetic surgeon has no official status with either AHPRA, the Medical Board of Australia, Medicare Australia or any of the private health insurers.

“There has been consistent media coverage highlighting the poor surgical outcomes including death and disfigurement and patient suffering following surgery by doctors not registered as Surgeons by AHPRA,” Dr Somia said.

The research also found that 86 per cent of Australians agree it is wrong that doctors without any formal surgical training are allowed to call themselves Surgeons.  Further, 81 per cent of Australians agree that the title cosmetic surgeon implies the doctor has completed surgical training.

“A doctor who calls themselves a Surgeon, is leading patients to believe that they have completed accredited surgical training and registered with AHPRA as a Surgeon when perhaps this is not the case. This situation is a serious issue that requires urgent intervention.

“ASAPS is calling on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), through the review of the National Law to mandate the use of AHPRA titles and restrict the use of the title Surgeon to those registered as Surgeons by AHPRA.

“This would enforce a culture of truth and transparency and enhance patient safety,” Dr Somia said.

*The research was conducted on behalf of ASAPS, by McNair yellow Squares of more than 2,000 Australians.


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

Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has been one of the peak bodies for cosmetic surgery in Australia and New Zealand for over 40 years. We are committed to making sure you receive the best advice, find an appropriately qualified aesthetic plastic surgeon and experience world-class treatment before, during and after your surgery.


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