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What cosmetic treatment complaints can HaDSCO process?

As an independent complaint resolution body, HaDSCO receives complaints regarding health and disability service providers. This service is governed by the Health and Disability Services (Complaints) Act 1995 (the Act), which outlines the types of complaints HaDSCO may process.

Frequently HaDSCO receives calls from consumers with complaints about cosmetic treatment or surgery they received. Due to the nature of such complaints, cosmetic treatment may or may not be classed as a ‘health service’ and fit within HaDSCO’s jurisdiction. Whether HaDSCO may process a complaint on cosmetic treatment or surgery depends on whether the service received can be defines as a ‘health service’ under the Act.

In order to assist individuals understand whether or not the service they received can be classed as a health service, HaDSCO has produced a policy to outline which complaints the Office may accept with regards to the provision of cosmetic treatments.

The policy states: To constitute a ‘health service’, the cosmetic treatment must be a service provided in relation to the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental disorder or suspected disorder.

Based on the above definition, a complaint may fall within HaDSCO’s jurisdiction if the cosmetic treatment or surgery was undertaken for a medical reason. For example, if breast augmentation is required to correct a malformation of breast tissue, disease or trauma of the breast.

HaDSCO may not process a complaint if the treatment:

  • was obtained predominantly for the improvement of the appearance of the user
  • did not affect the functioning of the body
  • did not correct a bodily dysfunction.

HaDSCO could not accept a complaint for example, if a breast augmentation was undertaken purely for cosmetic purposes. In these cases, HaDSCO will refer the complainant to an alternative and more suitable organisation such as the Department of Commerce or Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Those wishing to raise a complaint must provide HaDSCO with sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the treatment was required for medical reasons. Sufficient evidence should include at least one of the following:

  • Original referral letter from the user’s GP to the relevant provider (eg. plastic surgeon) setting out the history of the user and the health reasons for seeking the treatment
  • Report or opinion from the provider who performed the treatment being complained about confirming that the treatment was provided to correct or improve the functioning of the body
  • Copies of receipts or other documentation from Medicare confirming item numbers and rebate status of the particular treatment being complained about. Medicare does not have item numbers for purely cosmetic treatments.

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