It’s all about Patient Safety with Dr Tim Edwards President ASAPS

It’s all about Patient Safety with Dr Tim Edwards President ASAPS

Trish

Hello listeners. It’s Trish Hammond here from the transforming bodies podcast. Today, I’m here with Dr Tim Edwards, who is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Adelaide, South Australia, my old hometown! Dr Tim is the President of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and we’re here at the Non-surgical Symposium 2023 and we’re gonna have a talk about what’s happening in the industry at the moment because there’s so many changes and it’s really good for everybody to know and I’m so happy to help get it out there to the masses. Thank you for joining us today, Dr. Edwards.

Dr Edwards

It’s a pleasure.

Trish

Thank you so much. So tell me, the first question I wanna ask you is there’s been so many changes happening lately with regards to the cosmetic industry in Australia and can you give us a brief rundown because we’ve had so much crap happening that’s kind of getting cleaned up a little bit now if that makes any sense or if I’ve seen the right thing even? But can you tell me a little bit of it?

Dr Edwards

Mhmm. So this process really started with the exposé of heinous behaviour by some small number of medical practitioners performing cosmetic procedures and we saw this in the media, and most people are aware of what I’m talking about and this was really distressing both professional surgeons and also obviously to patients to see that this was going on. In response, the government has launched multiple different inquiries into the cosmetic surgery and nonsurgical industries to try and improve standards. It all started because of the so-called cosmetic cowboys and what they were exposed as doing. Unfortunately, it ends with the fact that they’re still operating up there and so in some ways, the government has achieved very little. But what it has done is shown a light on a bad practice and educate the public into what they should be looking for in their practitioner and along with that, a suite of reforms just to tighten up the processes, the patient safety, the protection of patients, So we’re gonna say they’re all good things.

Trish

Mhmm. So it is like how is it gonna benefit patients? It’s gonna keep them safer?

Dr Edwards

Well, it’s a number of ways. So with respect to advertising, it’s going to clamp down on misleading advertising that glamorises procedures and surgery and gives a sense of unrealistic expectations. It’s going to clamp down on people referring to themselves as things that they are not, such as people who don’t have a surgical qualification referring to themselves as surgeons. And also screening for vulnerabilities of mental health that some patients may have that may affect their ability to make good decisions. So there are a number of different processes being put in place both in the non surgical and the surgical space.

 

Trish

You know, that’s fantastic. And I love it when I hear that some people have been refused surgery because it might be an issue for them to actually have surgery. I don’t know what it is but I actually really like it because it’s not just about making money. Let’s just give people what they want. It’s actually about working out if that person, I don’t know if it should be the right word, but you know what I’m trying to say, don’t you?

Dr Edwards

What you’re trying to say is, firstly, is a person seeking surgery for the right reasons. And that can be whether it’s aesthetic or not. The second thing is, is that result achievable? Can you achieve what that person wants you to do? And the third thing is, is it actually going to meet the expectations of the individual? And there are some people who may have body image disorders or just insecurities or anxieties or various mental health conditions who just need maybe not even to not have surgery, but they need to sort the those things out first so they need to get the right professional advice and then you can work with that person to achieve a result that’s certainly both done for the right reasons. Secondly, they might achieve what they want and then we’ll ultimately make them satisfied with the result.

Trish

Mhmm. I love that process for one of the boomers because I remember the first time ever when I saw a practitioner. My question was, Okay. Well, what do you think I need?
And they write it off a whole bunch of stuff and for me, once you know that, you can’t look back so I thought I didn’t think I needed Botox. I thought I looked alright.

Dr Edwards

It’s if someone comes in and asks that sort of question. The immediate response that I would give them is, well, it’s not about what you need. Mhmm. It’s what you want and you tell me what your thinking bothers you, and then we can work with that.
But it’s not about me telling people what they want and that will happen on a regular basis where someone might come to see me and I might be judgmental and think that they’ve come in to talk about this problem. And in fact, there’s nothing to do with it. They aren’t bothered by that problem, and they’ve come in to talk about another problem. So it’s very much about listening to your patients and hearing what bothers them because what bothers you may not bother me and vice versa.

Trish

That’s so true. I remember I had a tummy tuck after I gave birth to my son. He was well, he’s twenty five now and I remember going to the doctor and he said, would you like me to do some liposuction on your hips as well. And I was like, no. My hips are fine, but later on, I was like, I should have listened to him.

Dr Edwards

Yes. It’s always a slightly awkward debate between not wanting to in any way upsell procedures, but also wanting to advise people on the most appropriate thing for themselves and that all comes down to developing rapport and that comes down to spending enough time with that individual so that both the patient and the doctor feel comfortable in a free exchange of ideas.

Trish

Absolutely. Absolutely. And tell me, with just recently or coming into effect on the 1st of July 2023, it’s called a I think it’s called a patient safety framework, and it starts on the first of July. So what are the main major changes that we’re gonna be seeing?

Dr Edwards

Yeah. So for the majority of responsible practitioners, the changes will not be great. Because most practitioners practise in a responsible way, and these frameworks are really just defining what those should be. So for example, with advertising, making sure that your advertising is not an inducement for attracting people to come and do things that they wouldn’t normally do with assessments of emotional and mental health vulnerabilities instead of just being something that people use their intuition to identify will be a formalised process of a patient assessment tool, then various improvements in consent processes and making sure that people are giving fully informed both medical and also financial consent.
Moving forward, there will be increased controls over where these procedures are performed so we’ve all heard stories about various treatments being offered at parties and in someone’s home, this will no longer be appropriate. It needs to be in a medical grade facility and very importantly proper after care. It’s no longer okay to do a procedure and then not be available and you have your backup plan that that person needs to go to the emergency room at the public hospital. Practitioners will be mandatory that practitioners have a backup care plan.

Trish

Mhmm. I love that because this is the whole risk that I actually got into this industry at the beginning of because the aftercare was what I needed, and I wasn’t getting it. And I was like, let’s wait. So I love that. That’s so good. I was gonna ask you, so we talked about how the upcoming changes are going to benefit the patients, but just recently, APHRA has released some guidelines. Oh, actually, it’s probably not recent but they’ve probably had them forever. But they’re gonna make a big, you know, they’re gonna make sure people are adhering to their guidelines. But the APHRA guidelines for non surgical cosmetic procedures are changing or they’ve changed. Can you give us a little bit of insight just for the average person. Like, when I say average person, I mean, like, someone that’s not a doctor, just for patients looking for practitioners because you don’t wanna see those fake pretend kind of before and afters that have been photoshopped and all that. I think this has got something to do with that. Is that right?

Dr Edwards

So those sorts of things will be banned going forward as will patient testimonials, which we all know, can be very misleading or even false. Various packaging of inducements, to either bring other people into the practice or upsell for bottle procedures at the same time. These sorts of things because the reality is that surgery and non surgical procedures don’t fit into the same category as other retail things where you’d often see, you know, by one get one free, all these sorts of things. So it’s dialling back the commercialisation of this industry to fit more within a medical responsible framework than a retail upselling framework and I think that’s a really good thing. And I think that that’s what most patients would feel more comfortable with as well. One of the most common complaints I hear with new patients is about pressure that they felt to do more and add more into their normal regime. And I think you need to dial that back and just look after people for the things that are bothering them and provide very non biassed, independent, responsible advice.

Trish 

That’s so true. And it’s funny because I’ve seen that happen time and time again where people have multiple things happening all at once, which has always freaked me out because I’m a one procedure at time kind of person myself, but and not that it hasn’t been successful, it has been, but just the thought of that was enough to just freak me out.

Dr Edwards

Yeah. Look, everyone is different, and there are some people who will see the value of doing a number of procedures at once because it’s one operation, it’s one downtime. It’s one anaesthetic maybe if they’re having a surgical procedure. But this all has to be taken in the context of is that safe? Is that reasonable? Is that person fit and healthy enough to do it? So there’s no blanket rule on these things, every individual needs to be assessed for that and out suits them and their social circumstances, the care plan that they have afterwards. Their expectations of getting back to work, all those sorts of things.

Trish 

That’s so true because that one of the girls that I know that had a bunch of stuff done after losing a massive man of white sheep just went bang bang bang bang. And this had three major surgeries, but she had a lot of stuff done and she coped really well, but I know that I wouldn’t. So, you know, that itself.

 

Dr Edwards

Yeah. And this is what some people say to me, so I can just get my head around one thing at a time. So let’s just do this, this year and next year, we’ll come back and look at that, and that’s absolutely fine because it’s what makes them comfortable and that’s very important.

Trish 

Yeah, absolutely. And look, last night, I was looking at the website. I was looking at aestheticplasticsurgeons.org.au which is the website for the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and I loved so many things that I saw on it because they’re new and I haven’t looked at the website for years. But first of all, ASAPS, they’re representing a culture of excellence in cosmetic surgery. I loved that phrase. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Dr Edwards

Yeah. So we’re an educational body. That’s essentially our DNA. Plastic surgery is a broad specialty. You have everything from chronic facial surgery, microsurgery, burn surgery, just to name a few. Aesthetic surgery is one part of plastic surgery, not all plastic surgeons do aesthetic surgery, some plastic surgeons do a mixture, and some plastic surgeons only do aesthetic surgery so our organisation represents around three hundred plastic surgeons across Australia and New Zealand. And essentially, we’re an educational body so we run courses, we run conferences for our members and we also help with advice regarding standards. We also run this conference, the Non-Surgical Symposium, which is a conference for people who have an interest in non surgical treatments. Our organisation strongly believes that surgery should be performed by registered specialist surgeons. But in the nonsurgical space, there are a large disparity of practitioners who work in this space, including plastic surgeons, but not limited to. So that includes registered nurses, dermal therapists, dermatologists, dentists, general practitioners and this conference is a great way of bringing all of those different people together to share their skills. We have the benefit of multiple international experts who come to this conference, and they come here because of the steam in which this conference is held around the world. And it’s a great sharing of ideas because if we all sit in our little silos and don’t talk to each other, we don’t gain the benefit of each other’s experience.

Trish 

And one thing I love about this conference is being someone who’s not any of those practitioners. I’m just like I said, I’m a patient. But I love the fact that you are a specialist plastic surgeon who has had a squillion years of just education before you can get into the field for like twelve years or whatever it is. Can actually learn something from a dental therapist who’s actually had a three year degree, but because their specialty is skin. I love the fact that it’s all it it’s like a cross pollination of everyone learning from it. So it’s not just the people who have got the local learning from the people who’ve got the higher qualifications. It’s vice versa and I love that.

 

Dr Edwards

Yeah. We worked very hard at that to make this a really inclusive conference so that we do not have a hierarchy of cameras to listen to the specialist surgeons and let us tell you what to do. We have speakers from all of those areas contributing and it’s interesting sometimes the pearls that you pick up just at a coffee break just mulling over things you find difficult and suddenly here someone else’s way of dealing with that can be some of the most valuable things you’ll get out of a conference like this.

Trish 

Absolutely. Absolutely. And just like I could talk to you all day. I’ve said that before today, but I could definitely talk to you for days. There’s so many questions. But can you tell us a little bit because I noticed last night that on the website and honestly, I spent, like, probably 10-15 minutes on there so it’s so much information on this. So I recommend every patient actually just go to before they have any aesthetic surgery, go to aestheticplasticsurgeons.org.au but there’s a free guide on there. That’s about picking your surgeon, isn’t it?

Dr Edwards

Yeah. There’s lots of resources on the website. Some of which are for special surgeons, some of which are for the people attending this conference, the practitioners, and many for patients. And we have a lot of information through our know the difference campaign because it can be difficult for patients to understand who is a registered specialist, how do I find the right person to deal with the problems that I perceive and how do I work through the medical system which can be a little bit murky. So we have a very clear system where patients can look up and understand the difference between non qualified and qualified specialist surgeons and also assistance with finding a specialist, aesthetic surgeon in their area.

Trish

Fantastic. I love that too. Look at that. I’m loving everything today. I love that too because it’s so important. I didn’t realise there were other resources as well. So have you got other resources for patients as well?

Dr Edwards

Yes. There’s resources about individual procedures and about how to identify and choose a surgeon. There’s information about how one becomes a surgeon and information about individual procedures.

Trish

Fantastic. Well, look, I gotta say thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate your time and it’s good having that bit of insight about all terminology  that I don’t really understand. And then I’m like, oh, yeah. That’s right. That’s what it is so it’s good to get that general knowledge, just speaking to me in normal English, which is really nice. Thank you so much for that.

 

Dr Edwards

Thank you for having me.

Trish

Lovely, so listeners if you want a reference here, it’s aestheticplasticsurgeons.org.au. Check it out, it’s a fantastic website. You’ve got heaps of freebies on there as well.
So thank you so much for joining us.

Dr Edwards

Pleasure. Thank you.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *