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Patient safety is a pet peeve of ours here at Skin Essentials.
In as much as is possible, we pride ourselves on doing everything we can, from the time you book a consultation to the day of your planned treatment to aftercare and followup, to work in a way that is ethical and safe while keeping you informed every step of the way.
So it is surprising to regularly see media articles about cosmetic cowboys as well as the sleight of hand that frequently shows up on social media feeds as medical aesthetics but which is largely clever marketing and gimmmickry to lure unsuspecting patients into procedures.
So how is a patient to know and what are some red flags to watch out for to help yourself stay safe? Read on to find out our thoughts!
1. Your provider should state their credentials and qualifications clearly.
In Australia, only AHPRA registered healthcare workers (HCWs) are cleared with appropriate training, to inject for medical aesthetics - medical doctors, nurses and dentists. Dermal technicians can additionally, undertake some skin therapies that are within the scope of their practice.
As doctor is not a protected term, you will find some people including naturopaths among others using the term “doctor” in their title, while not being a medical practitioner, which is a protected title.
Equally, not all doctors are of equal standing - a dermatologist (FAAD) is not the same as a plastic surgeon (FRACS, Plastics) and not the same as someone like Dr Joshi, who is FRACGP. All three specialities are additional training years in respective fields, with scopes of practice, so it is important to understand these, versus doctors who have the base degree (MBBS, or MD or BMed) or a dentist (BDS) or a registered nurse (BN) to know who is treating you and their likely skillset and qualifications.
2. You should have a good idea of their years of experience in aesthetics and any prior medical experience.
In Australia, anyone can look up their AHPRA registered provider using the AHPRA website to check their provider’s qualifications, whether they are specialists as well as whether they are of good standing to practice in the community and how long they’ve been working for.
Someone who has qualified in 2016 is not the same as someone who qualified in 2001 and has been working this time. Likewise, someone who has the base MBBS degree since 2016 is not the same as someone who has the MBBS, FRACGP title for example. Speciality training programs involve extra years of a structured training program, as well as examinations which ultimately serve to benefit patients.
3. They never promise or guarantee an outcome
No one can ever guarantee you won’t bruise, or only need a single treatment or even an outcome. The face is the most mobile part of our body and we rely on it to communicate our thoughts, mood and so much more. As such, none of us is completely symmetrical and it is impossible to guarantee an outcome no matter how diligent the provider, so be wary of anyone who over promises.
4. They seek clarity with you regarding your wishes to allow your photos to be used to show other patients or on social media, and any conditions attached to these, in writing.
It is a direct violation of your rights as a patient to have photos or information disseminated without your consent. Being a highly visual industry, your doctor may ask for your consent to share photos with patients in clinic, or even on social media. If you say yes, they should clarify with you the extent of your consent, preferably in writing so there is no miscommunication.
5. They use machines and products that are TGA registered.
This is a big one. Terms such as “low level laser” and “medical grade” are in and of themselves, meaningless. What you are seeking to know ultimately is, whether your provider uses machines and products that have passed safety requirements ie are TGA registered (and therefore more expensive to buy, own and to maintain, raising cost of treatment) and not bought off back alleys or overseas or via eBay.
6. They will refuse to treat at “injectables parties” and the like
We have all, at one time or another been asked if we’d treat at these parties. The problem with this is manifold. Injectables parties and medical procedures do not mix:
7. They don’t insist on a deposit for a procedure prior to the consultation to assess suitability
The consultation is not just a cursory token box to tick before you get down to business. With a reputable doctor, the consultation is a comprehensive detailed process to determine your concerns, your medical history, any reason why you may not be suited to the procedure you want, and a discussion of risks and side effects as well as appropriate time to cool off and change your mind if you are undecided.
As such, no one should be asking you for a deposit for a procedure prior to the consultation to first determine if you are suitable and eligible for the procedure or if something else may be better suited to your needs.
8. They don’t offer incentives or payment for positive reviews nor do they offer refunds to avoid negative reviews
This is a big no-no and can get someone warned or even deregistered. All medical aesthetics are medical procedures and treatments and with adequate consent patients should understand that they are paying for a treatment, not a guaranteed outcome. As such, there should be no pressure to write positive reviews in exchange for referrals, or discounts, nor should a refund be offered to avoid a negative review in the event of an adverse outcome.
9. They don’t do paid promotions and advertisements
This one is controversial, because many doctors and nurses do this, but it is my opinion that as doctors (and HCWs in general) we have a duty of care to first do no harm but also not to seek to unduly influence our patients who place their trust in us, through the promotion of products to generate sales for another company that pays us for it.
If we genuinely like a product, we can by all means promote it to our patients, and likewise if we do not, we can speak freely about this, but the exchange of money to talk about a product, and influence patients, in my opinion, crosses a line that is a form of upselling for a company and I’m personally uncomfortable with it.
What are your thoughts on the 9 points above? Any others you’d add?
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Skin Essentials will reopen the week beginning 11th October 2021.
Per NSW government regulations, only double vaccinated patients will be served when we reopen and we will be checking vaccination certificates for all patients upon booking. This requirement may change as of December 1st, and we will advise you accordingly.
Please email us (email@example.com) or text us (0413174654) your vaccination certificate as soon after booking as you can. We will not be able to see anyone for treatments or confirm appointments without this.
In the interest of full disclosure, transparency and patient safety, all patient facing staff will be fully vaccinated by the time of reopening. Please read our reopening FAQ for more information.