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Cosmetic surgery deaths highlight clinics’ violations

Update: August, 16/2017 - 11:45
The Việt Thành Beauty Clinic. — Photo

HCM CITY — Bùi Minh Trạng, chief inspector of HCM City’s Health Department, said various violations had been detected at cosmetic surgery clinics, such as false advertising and employing surgeon not certified to perform plastic surgery, resulting in several fatalities in recent months.

In addition, many clinics hired non-professional staff, he said.

An American man died while having cosmetic surgery at a clinic on Sư Vạn Hạnh Street in District 10 on July. The man, identified as Edward Hartley, 53, went to the clinic for surgery to remove loose skin around his hip. He was given an anesthetic at 4pm, but started showing signs of circuit obstruction.

Doctors conducted emergency procedures but failed to revive Hartley. The municipal Health Department has concluded that he suffered anaphylactic shock.

In April,  a 22-year-old woman from Hoc Mon District underwent breast enlargement surgery at Vạn Hạnh General Hospital in District 10. A few days later she was admitted to the Hóc Môn General Hospital with difficulty breathing and low blood pressure. She was diagnosed with serious post-operative infection and transferred to the 115 People’s Hospital on April 24.

Doctors found her to be 16-17 weeks pregnant and provided intensive care, but she went into a coma and died on May 4.

Inspectors found that the surgeon who conducted the breast augmentation for the 22-year-old woman was not licensed to perform this type of surgery.

Regarding the death of an American at the Việt Thành Beauty Clinic, the municipal health inspectorate said the facility violated its permit. It was only licensed to perform techniques such as dimple creation surgery, eyelid surgery, nose reshaping. However, it also promoted breast augmentation and liposuction procedures on social media and on its website.

The anasthetic risk

Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, chief of municipal Health Department’s Office, admitted that the department faced many difficulties in examining clinics’ operations.

"In accordance with Law on Enterprise, we have to send a notice to any enterprise or clinic before carrying out inspections, making it difficult to detect violations," she said.

Apart from plastic surgery departments at public and private hospitals, HCM City has around 100 cosmetic surgery clinics, according to the official.

Nguyễn Phan Tú Dung, director of JW Korean Plastic Surgery Hospital, said anaphylactic shock was the most likely fatal complication in cosmetic surgery due to reaction from the anesthetic. Therefore, patients’ response to anesthetics must be tested before performing any surgery, he said.

Facilities must also be equipped to conduct timely emergency treatment for patients when they suffer shock, he said.

Simple surgeries such as eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty and dimple creation surgery can be carried out at cosmetic surgery clinics, but surgeries which require general anesthesia, such as liposuction, breast augmentation, bone-cutting surgery must be performed in specialised hospitals, Dung said.

In the case of the 22-year-old breast augmentation patient, initial reports indicate that neither the patient nor the doctors knew about her pregnancy. Checking pregnancy wasn’t required before performing breast augmentation surgery, but prior to administering an anesthetic the doctors should have tested her functions like coagulation function, kidney function and liver function, he said.

Urine tests should also have been performed to check for other medical conditions, including pregnancy and the menstrual cycle of the patient. "If the doctor is doubtful, patients must be given a quick pregnancy test. However, most women patients know they are pregnant because this is basic knowledge," Dung said.

In related news, the Ministry of Health recently asked the HCM City’s Health Department to review its cosmetic surgery services and put an end to medical facility misconduct. — VNS


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