Patients at one of Australia’s most popular cosmetic surgery clinics are being knocked out without their consent, an explosive leaked report has revealed.
According to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) report, in the last 12 months six patients suffered potentially life-threatening complications while getting breast implants, including rapid heartbeat, seizures and cardiac arrest.
High doses of anaesthetics used at the clinic appear to be to blame.
“Adrenaline was used routinely (in combination with local anaesthetic agents) … at well above the accepted upper limit of safe dosage,” the report found.
It found the clinics “placed the health and safety of members of the public at risk”.
Merrilyn Walton, a professor of Medical Education, Patient Safety at the University of Sydney, said the findings were “extremely worrying”.
“It’s hard for me to imagine in 2016 that this is actually occurring,” she said.
The Cosmetic Institute is Australia’s largest provider of cosmetic surgery. It has clinics in Sydney and the Gold Coast with plans to open in Victoria.
The company’s annual projected turnover for 2014-15 was $35 million to $40 million.
The highly critical report found patients were being given high doses of anaesthetic cocktails, to the point where they were “under a general anaesthetic”. But the clinics are only licensed to provide “conscious sedation”.
Patients had not given their consent to be put under a general anaesthetic.
“TCI’s consent procedures were inadequate — as patients are being placed under either deeper sedation or general anaesthetic with no consent provided for this,” the report found.
Patients not aware of TCI procedure’s risk.
Professor Walton said she was very concerned that patients had not given proper, informed consent.
“If doctors are honest about the level of drugs they’re using, they would have to expose the serious risk these women face during this procedure,” she said.
“I can’t imagine anyone would consent to having these procedures done in such circumstances.”
Doses were not being adjusted for individual patients’ size and body weight.
“Local anaesthetic drugs were used at TCI in excess of safe doses and dose calculations were not individualised according to patients’ weight,” experts said.
Daniel Fleming from the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgeons said the doctors involved needed to be held to account for their actions.
“All of these unlawful anaesthetics, all of these dangerous complications occurred at the hands of medical practitioners, anaesthetists and surgeons. We would like to know if the HCCC is taking action against those doctors who have acted unlawfully, misled patients and put their lives at risk,” Dr Fleming said.
The ABC first raised concerns about The Cosmetic Institute last year, when it was revealed TCI was under investigation for alleged inappropriate use of anaesthetic.
The company now performs procedures at Concord Private Hospital in Sydney and another private hospital in Southport, Queensland.
Patients tell of botched breast implant surgery.
Narelle Bayon has been in constant pain since getting breast implants at The Cosmetic Institute in Sydney.