Monday, July 21, 2008

Can A Doctor Make You Sign Away Your Right To Talk About Your Surgery?

A New Zealand women's health group claims a doctor from a top Auckland private hospital made a woman sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to reveal his identity in exchange for waiving part of his fee.

A friend to the woman whose surgery was botched contacted Women's Health Action Trust for help at the end of last year. The woman's friend became concerned as she would not leave her house because her chest was seriously disfigured.

"She had weeping wounds - she was a complete mess. She ended up getting so disfigured, she wouldn't go out. It's the worst case we've come across," Jo Fitzpatrick of Women's Health Action Trust told the Sunday Star-Times.

The doctor attempted to repair the damage, but failed.

After receiving word of several botched cosmetic operations, New Zealand's Medical Council adopted new guidelines for training requirements surgeons must meet before performing certain operations (liposuction among them) last October. Two doctors did not comply with the new regulations last year and were forced to stop performing the procedures for which they were not qualified. Another doctor is under investigation after receiving a report of him performing cosmetic surgery.

Patient education is the primary concern of the kiwi government. Later this week, they're expected to release a brochure detailing the new requirements a cosmetic surgeon must meet, what a patient can expect and information about what they can do if something goes wrong.

Tristan de Chalain, an Auckland-based cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon and president of the Foundation for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery chided the council for being too lax.

"We have very little protection for the public here. There are still huge loopholes," says de Chalain.

Still, he praises the council for attempting to tighten standards.

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