USA Today Article Highlights the Dangers of Unqualified Doctors Performing Cosmetic Surgery

The lead story published in USA Today on 9/14/11 dramatically highlights the risks and dangers associated with cosmetic procedures being performed by persons not properly qualified to do so. Written by Jayne O’Donnell, it detailed the lack of oversight on who is performing cosmetic surgery in America, and the often amazing lack of training by those doing so. The article describes the tragic death of Kellee Lee-Howard, who died from an overdose of medication after undergoing liposuction performed by a doctor who was not only not a plastic surgeon – he was not even a surgeon.
Her surgery was performed in the office, not at an accredited surgical facility or hospital. She had selected her doctor from an advertisement that promised “safe” weight loss. Sadly, Ms. Lee-Howard was not the only patient to die while undergoing cosmetic surgery while under that doctor’s care, a doctor whose training had come from a weekend course on how to perform liposuction.
The article also describes similar stories that have occurred throughout the United States and discusses why there is so much confusion on who is qualified to perform cosmetic surgery and who is not. The key points:
• Under most state laws in the United States, doctors are not required to disclose what they were trained in after medical school, whether they are board-certified, and, if so, their specialization.
• Most states assume that anyone who is a graduate from a medical or osteopathic school is trained in all areas of medical care. As a result, in those states, any doctor with a license can perform any surgery or treatment as long as the patient agrees.
• As a result, we have found radiologists performing liposuction, and dentists doing facelifts. Many of these doctors obtain their cosmetic training by flying off to weekend training programs where they usually get to hear about the procedures and maybe get to see one.
• Making things even more complex is the new industry that has popped up with numerous “certifying organizations” that will “certify” doctors who complete their educational criteria and maybe have to pass their certifying exam. None of these “certifying organizations” is recognized by The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which is the only organization that is fully accredited to set the standards, the training requirements, and the ongoing testing to certify any specialty board certification in the USA. The standards set by the ABMS are so high that major insurance carriers, medical centers, and medical schools accept only their certifications as being official.
Many states are now working at developing and passing laws that will require all doctors to declare what they were trained in and what board certifications, if any, they have obtained. Only board certifications by the ABMS will be recognized. These are often called Truth in Advertising Laws and have already been passed into law in Florida and California. Many other states are considering passing similar laws, although Missouri still has yet to attempt to do so. An effort is underway to get this important piece of public safety law introduced in the next legislative session. Please support this when it is being considered.
The moral of the USA Today story: if you are going to have cosmetic surgery performed, do your homework and look for a [link: https://www.stlcosmeticsurgery.com/plastic-surgeons/] Board Certified Plastic Surgeon [/link]. Then you know your doctor will have received the correct training and is continuing to be educated in the most up-to-date techniques, technologies, and patient safety programs.
I will leave you with this quote from the USA Today article from Dr. Randy Miller, “No one is pretending to be a heart surgeon, no one is pretending to be a pediatrician, but everyone’s pretending to be a plastic surgeon.”
To read the full article by Ms. O’Donnell, visit

http://usat.ly/otDg7w

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