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Patients Put in Harm’s Way When Doctors Use Fabricated Titles

Posted on Thursday, 1 August 2019

Doctors who practice Cosmetic Surgery should not be allowed to use fabricated titles as this misleads patients and puts them in harm’s way, said the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) President, Dr Naveen Somia.

The statement comes in response to Channel Nine’s A Current Affairs program (30 July) that showed the negative impact on patients as a result of the use of fabricated titles by a doctor.

“One of the patients in the story said ‘I would have never agreed to be operated on had I known he wasn’t a Plastic Surgeon’.  This demonstrates that fabricated titles easily mislead patients.

“The abhorrent practice of misleading patients by using fabricated titles needs to be stopped before more patients are hurt.

“There are so many titles being used by doctors who perform Cosmetic Surgery to imply qualifications which unfortunately are not reflective of their legitimate AHPRA status or the AHPRA titling system,” Dr Somia said.

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA), the national medical regulator, has an official title for all doctors that reflects their training and qualifications.  Patients can search the AHPRA database to find out what accreditation their doctor has, and if any reprimands or conditions are currently restricting their practice.

“The callous disregard for the official AHPRA titling system allows doctors to overstate their qualifications and stretch their area of expertise, which has the potential to mislead patients,” Dr Somia said.

Dr Somia said the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) and the AHPRA need to mandate that doctors only use their official AHPRA accredited title as signified by their registration to help ensure that properly qualified surgeons undertake Cosmetic Surgeries.

“Just as Surgeons have to obtain Informed Consent and Informed Financial Consent before surgery, it should be mandatory for all doctors who practice Cosmetic Surgery to disclose their official AHPRA title to the patient before surgery.

“This is the only way to be transparent and will provide patients with a better understanding of whether the doctor they are seeing is a real surgeon registered by AHPRA and holds accreditation in the appropriate surgical speciality.

“Otherwise, patients are at a complete loss to know if the self-titled surgeon has completed any surgical training, if the self-titled surgeon tried to achieve a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) but failed to meet the standards, or if the self-titled surgeon trained overseas but was unable to have his or her qualifications recognised by the Medical Board of Australia.

“Patient safety must be prioritised by the Health Ministers at the upcoming COAG meeting where the opportunity exists to review the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

“We would implore the Ministers to vote unanimously in favour of the mandatory use of the APHRA accredited titling system and ban the use of fabricated titles.  This will ensure that all doctors who perform Cosmetic Surgery operate within the regulatory framework of AHPRA.

“What we don’t need is more sad stories about patients who had their surgery botched and their lives destroyed because a fabricated title misled them.

“Patients are entitled to more protection in a robust health system, such as the one we are supposed to have in Australia,” Dr Somia said.

Ends

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

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