Cosmetic surgery: Intraoperative complications

Louise Hall  has reported on a recent decision of the NSW Professional Standards Committee in relation to a cosmetic surgeon and an anaesthetist.

Prior to the surgery commencing, but after a preparatory injection into her nose, the patient suffered a cardiac arrest. She was resuscitated and shortly thereafter, the surgery proceeded.

It was alleged that it was inappropriate for the surgeon and an anaesthetist to proceed with surgery in those circumstances. It was also alleged that the anaesthetist failed to provide proper post-operative care to the patient, in that she remained in theatre for other procedures rather than leaving so as to attend to the patient (there was no high dependency unit available).

Findings of unsatisfactory professional conduct were made, with reprimands.

Shared care

At [81] it was noted, and it was later emphasised, that there was general agreement between the expert witnesses that the decision to be made in the patient’s circumstances was a shared decision. While a surgeon and an anaesthetist have specific roles and responsibilities, they are exercising “shared care” during a surgical procedure.


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