In the quest for physical enhancement, non-surgical cosmetic procedures have become increasingly popular. These treatments offer individuals the opportunity to refine their appearance without undergoing surgery. However, as with any medical procedure, it’s crucial to prioritise patient safety and ethical practice. In this blog, we will delve into the guidelines for registered medical practitioners performing non-surgical cosmetic procedures. We’ll explore the critical aspects of recognising conflicts of interest, assessing patient suitability, obtaining informed consent, patient management, qualifications, advertising, facilities, and financial arrangements. Let’s dive in.
Recognising Potential Conflicts of Interest
Before any non-surgical cosmetic procedure, medical practitioners must recognise that conflicts of interest can arise. Their primary concern should be the care and well-being of the patient. This means ensuring that financial interests or other external factors do not compromise patient safety and the ethical delivery of care.
Assessment of Patient Suitability
Medical practitioners must engage in a comprehensive discussion with patients to understand their motivations for seeking cosmetic procedures. This includes exploring external pressures and internal desires for aesthetic changes. Moreover, the patient’s expectations must be discussed to ensure they align with realistic outcomes.
Assessing patients for underlying psychological conditions, such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), is critical. Patients with significant psychological issues may not be suitable candidates for cosmetic procedures. If indications suggest such issues, a referral to an independent psychologist, psychiatrist, or general practitioner is necessary.
Medical practitioners should discuss alternative options with patients, which may include treatments offered by other healthcare professionals or even the option of not undergoing the procedure. A practitioner must decline to proceed if they believe it is not in the patient’s best interest.
Patient Consultation Type
For prescription-only cosmetic injectables, medical practitioners must conduct consultations either in person or via video. This ensures that the practitioner thoroughly evaluates the patient’s suitability for the procedure.
Special Considerations for Patients Under 18
Patients under the age of 18 require additional care and consideration must be given.
These guidelines include:
- Compliance with relevant legislation regarding cosmetic procedures for minors.
- Assessing the appropriateness of the procedure.
- Ensuring the patient has the capacity to consent.
- Involving the views of a parent or guardian.
- Implementing a cooling-off period of at least seven days.
- Encouraging discussions with a general practitioner during the cooling-off period.
Before any procedure, medical practitioners must provide patients with enough information to make informed decisions. This includes verbal discussions and written information in plain language, ensuring the patient comprehends the details. Information should cover the procedure, risks, outcomes, recovery, costs, and practitioner qualifications.
If practitioners plan to take photographs or videos of patients during consultations or procedures, they must seek consent. Patients should be aware of how these images will be used, stored, and who will have access. Consent for image use must be separate from consent for the procedure itself.
Practitioners must take reasonable steps to ensure patients understand the information provided. Consent discussions and signed consent forms must be documented.
Prescribing and Administering Cosmetic Injectables
Medical practitioners must adhere to state or territory laws regarding prescription-only cosmetic injectables. This includes permits, prescribing, records, supply, storage, and transport.
Medical practitioners performing cosmetic procedures are responsible for patient management, including post-procedure care. They must have formal arrangements in place if they are not personally available for post-procedure care.
Handling Complications and Emergencies Protocols for managing complications and emergencies must be in place, ensuring patient safety during and after the procedure.
In the event of complications requiring hospitalisation, the medical practitioner who performed the procedure remains responsible for coordinating care until the patient is under the management of an alternative practitioner or hospital.
Written instructions detailing post-procedure care, including contact information, symptoms to watch for, medication, and follow-up appointments, must be provided to patients.
Medical records should include comprehensive details of the cosmetic procedure to enable other practitioners to take over post-procedure care if necessary.
Provision of Patient Care by Other Health Practitioners
Medical practitioners are responsible for ensuring that any other individuals involved in patient care have appropriate qualifications and supervision as required.
Practitioners must inform patients of available complaint mechanisms, including those outside the clinic, such as health complaints entities and medical councils.
Training and Experience
Medical practitioners providing cosmetic procedures must have the necessary knowledge, training, and experience. Those expanding their scope of practice into cosmetic procedures should undergo appropriate training. Continuous professional development (CPD) related to cosmetic procedures is essential.
Qualifications and Titles
Medical practitioners must not mislead patients by making claims about qualifications or experience that are untrue. They should clearly inform patients of their registration type and only use protected titles that they hold.
Advertising and Marketing
Advertising materials must comply with relevant guidelines and codes. Advertisements should not exaggerate results, minimise complexity, or imply unrealistic outcomes. Specific guidance for advertising cosmetic procedures is available.
Practitioners must comply with jurisdictional regulations regarding facilities where cosmetic procedures are performed. Accreditation by an approved agency, such as the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC), is encouraged for procedures involving skin incisions or injections.
Ensuring the safety, well-being, and ethical treatment of patients undergoing non-surgical cosmetic procedures is paramount. These guidelines provide a comprehensive framework for registered medical practitioners to deliver high-quality care while prioritising patient interests above all else. By adhering to these guidelines, medical practitioners can maintain the highest standards in the field of non-surgical cosmetic procedures, ultimately benefiting both patients and the medical community.