Written by Gemma Dixon, Graduate Chartered Legal Executive and Andy Tindall, Litigation Executive
While social media has its perks and is now a part of many people’s everyday lives, there are many examples of it being used for the wrong reasons.
One of the examples that we see regularly at Fletchers is the use of social media to push cosmetic procedures by unregulated companies.
As well as the many legitimate companies who advertise nails, hair and beauty treatments, there are also adverts for treatment, such as botox and laser hair removal. These treatments are sometimes performed by people with no medical qualification at all, or those who have attended a one or two day course. There is a rising number of people who attend their local hairdressers to have Botox.
At Fletchers Solicitors, we receive a lot of enquiries from customers who are looking to pursue a medical negligence claim for treatments that they have had. After taking initial instructions and conducting research, sometimes, it is the case that the person who did the treatment, whether independently or within a company, is actually not medically qualified.
This often comes as a surprise to the customer who was under the impression that such procedures can only be performed by medical professionals.
The concern is that people are performing treatments with little or no training and tend to have no medical qualification. It is common for no risk assessments to be completed, no warnings explained to the recipient, no pre-treatment health checks or insurance.
Recently it was reported that Superdrug is now performing Botox treatments in selected stores. Due to the initial backlash, Superdrug has now promised to conduct mental health checks on customers prior to performing the treatment.
If the person providing the treatment is medically qualified, the view changes.
Unlike those individuals who are not medically qualified, it is mandatory for medics to have adequate insurance or indemnity arrangements, whether that is through private individual indemnity or a national clinical negligence scheme. Therefore, identifying and establishing indemnity, or to put it bluntly ‘who will pay’, is not necessarily an issue when considering a potential claim following cosmetic surgery.
Instead the difficulty comes in demonstrating that a procedure has been carried out to a standard that would be considered negligent.
The established ‘Bolam’ principles set out the basic standard of care that is expected of medical professionals. In order for treatment/care to be considered negligent, it will need to be proven that no reasonable body of medical opinion, within that particular area of expertise (e.g. a plastic surgeon), would have treated a patient in the manner of the accused.
As such, the threshold that has to be met is a particularly high and difficult one, even in situations which many might see as ‘straightforward.’ However, when assessing cosmetic procedures that have been carried out by medical professionals, although the basic principles remain the same, the threshold seemingly becomes even greater due to a number of factors and the nature of the treatment itself.
One of the main purposes of cosmetic procedures is to change, and hopefully improve, the appearance of a particular area of the body. Appearance in itself an entirely subjective matter and herein lies the major difficulty; simply because a patient may not be happy with the outcome of a cosmetic procedure does not mean that they will be successful in establishing that it has been carried out negligently. In fact, one of the major inherent risks of cosmetic surgery is poor outcome and the results not being as expected. Therefore, it is vital, that individuals are fully aware of this before agreeing to proceed with such treatment.
Generally, for a medical negligence claim to succeed, it will need to be established that the technique used and the manner in which the procedure was carried out was done in such a way that the medical professional failed to use reasonable care and skill and caused injuries.
What should you do before having any treatment?
- Research the company/individual and look for reviews from previous clients.
- Ask questions about the treatment, what it entails and the risks, including any pre and post treatment advice.
- Obtain full details of the individual who performs the treatment, including their qualifications.
- Find out about after care and if any follow up appointments are needed.
- Keep a receipt as proof of the cost of the treatment – pay by card if possible.