New guidelines for cosmetic surgery have a notable focus on getting a patient’s consent prior to any procedure.
They cease to recognize the doctor knows best culture of old, whilst the ‘sign on the dotted line and we’ll begin’ approach will no longer suffice. Getting a patient’s consent to a procedure is now a lengthy process, with numerous hurdles to overcome. Failure to do so is negligent and can see patients awarded substantial levels of damages.
The GMC guidelines now require doctors to, among other things:
- Sit down themselves with the patient and listen to their wants and concerns.
- Explain the benefits, risks and whether the procedure will give the desired results.
- Assess a patient’s psychological state and whether they are suitable candidates for surgery.
- Give patients time for reflection.
All this means essentially involving patients in the decision making process. For example, suppose a patient walks into a cosmetic surgery wanting some information about a facelift. She is told by the secretary on the desk that she will look like a supermodel with this new procedure that they are currently running an offer for. She then has a brief consultation with a junior surgeon who implies there are only minor risks associated with the procedure before pressuring the patient into signing a consent form and hurrying her into a treatment room. Few words are exchanged with the senior surgeon and she undergoes the treatment.
Despite the fact the patient signs a consent form, she does not give the level of consent required by the GMC guidelines. The treatment is performed with improper advice from under qualified persons and carried out too quickly. As such, if there is any resulting loss from the surgery, such as scarring or deformity, the surgeon could be found fully liable.
For more information on the GMC guidance, visit gmc-uk.org/guidance/
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