Sun, May 26, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Group accuses DOH of neglecting patients’ safety

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Quality aesthetic medicine is out of the question if safety is not up to par, Taiwan Women’s Link (TWL) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said yesterday as they accused the Department of Health (DOH) of “putting the cart before the horse” by allegedly neglecting patients’ safety.

Four serious cases of medical malpractice in aesthetic medicine, one of which was fatal, occurred this year. These accidents can be attributed to a medical environment that is not properly monitored by authorities, in which misleading and false advertising, concealment of medical information and medical practices where safety is not guaranteed are allowed, the group told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

“The health authority, instead of strengthening law enforcement to ensure medical safety, has been promoting quality certification of aesthetic medicine, not to mention that the certification that the public believes is fully authorized by the government is actually sponsored by the Taiwan Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation [TJCHA], a non-governmental organization,” TWL chairwoman Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said.

“Now there are other medical groups campaigning to boycott the existing certification and establish their own,” Huang said, asking whether the safety and quality of aesthetic medicine can really be certified if a unified and government-backed set of regulations is lacking.

Not only is a public certification mechanism absent, the health authority is also incompetent in reining in false advertising about the effects of medically unproven treatments, and the inappropriate use of medical equipment and products, Lin said.

Also, “medical information and diagnoses are provided by non-medical staff who act as consultants, without informing patients about the potential risks and side effects [of procedures],” Huang said. “Autologous fat grafting [in breast augmentation] is accompanied by high risks of infection and failure, for instance, and platelet rich plasma skin regeneration therapy lacks sound medical proof of its effectiveness.”

Bureau of Medical Affairs Director Hsu Ming-neng (許銘能), who was present at the press conference, promised to tighten the government’s grip on misleading advertisements and unqualified consultants, saying that cases of medical fraud are subject to prison sentences.

Although the certification is not commissioned or financially sponsored by the government, Hsu said the TJCHA is a Department of Health-invested policy implementing unit.

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