Laser facial treatment provided by a non-medical dermatology clinic

Machado v Advanced Dermatology Group Pty Ltd [2013] NSWDC 85 is a decision regarding a series of laser cosmetic facial treatments described as a non-surgical 60 minute face lift for facial rejuvenation. The plaintiff sought compensation for resultant burns, blistering and scarring to her face.

The plaintiff’s claim failed as the Court held at [96] that she had sued the wrong defendant company. Even absent that finding, the claim would have failed.

The trial judge described as remarkable the decision of the plaintiff to call no evidence, expert or otherwise, to identify what constituted a safe and competent standard of treatment to be expected of a clinic of the kind in question: [12]. Absent such evidence and despite a res ipsa loquitur submission, the Court was unable to make reasoned findings regarding breach of duty of care or causation: [137].

Of wider interest was the comment made at [157] as to the scope of the duty owed by such a dermatology clinic:

On behalf of the plaintiff it was argued that the scope of the duty of care owed to her was similar to that owed by a doctor to a patient. In my view, that formulation is an overstatement of the duty owed as the centre was not a place where medical treatment was provided. However, the plaintiff was clearly owed a duty that reasonable care would be taken in the provision of information as to risks associated with the cosmetic treatment she was contemplating, as well as in the performance of the treatment she agreed to have.

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