Cosmetic Surgery Overseas: Limited Options if things go wrong…..
I noticed with interest and some concern, recent media attention (see for example and a Herald Sun story in mid-May) concerning the number of Australians travelling to Asia to undergo cosmetic surgery. According to a recent report, this may be 15,000 patients a year.
Concerns have arisen at the costs then borne by Medicare for remedial treatment for patients suffering complications of the procedure overseas. According to a Monash Uni study, this is almost $13,000 per patient undergoing such treatment. This is a lot. $13,000 involves a lot more than simple infection treatment etc.
This in combination with concerns from a public health and safety perspective about such completely unregulated and possibly unregulatable industry is obviously of significant concern.
Action against the surgeon/provider of sub-standard medical treatment overseas (noting “sub-standard” meaning below the standards that would be expected in Australia), will depend upon the law of the place in which such treatment is provided. Even if, through ingenuity, claim could be brought against the surgeon/service provider in Australia, in the absence of any likely insurance, recovering any loss or compensation from a surgeon or clinic overseas would be problematic.
The only remaining option, if a serious complication or other sub-standard outcome occurs, is to make claim against the local Australian promoter and facilitator for the overseas medical care. A quick google search will net a whole bevvy of such ‘health travel agents’ with a flashy website promising a ‘Kardashian like outcome’ at a bargain basement cost (with a holiday thrown in!).
This is the avenue we have pursued on behalf of clients, with some, but not complete, success. Such claims are essentially misrepresentation and misleading and deceptive conduct cases against the website operator.
Whilst ideally this sort of promotion would not be permitted or would be tightly regulated to ensure responsible and accurate statements about the risks and a fair evidence-based comparison between services provided overseas and those with a registered and insured local provider, in the absence of this, such mode of claim seems the best likely to be available, for now at least.