Patient Safety Initiative Outreaches to Hispanics, Announces ASAPS

New York, NY (May 13, 2004) — Increased outreach to the Hispanic community is one goal of a public education initiative on patient safety announced during the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) in response to multiple news reports about Hispanic patients targeted by medical and surgical scams.

“Most cosmetic procedures have excellent safety records, so people may be easily persuaded that they are simple to perform and are without risk,” says ASAPS President Peter Fodor, MD, “but in the wrong hands – the results can be disastrous.”

Recent reported incidents in New York have involved unlicensed physicians or individuals posing as doctors; performance of procedures in unsafe, nonmedical settings; and the use of illegal substances:

  • On April 13, 2003, Maria Cruz died of complications from laser surgery performed by an unlicensed doctor in an apartment. Her body was found 10 months later folded into a suitcase and buried in the “doctor’s” former home.
     
  • In 2002, a Venezuelan couple masquerading as doctors performed plastic surgery out of their house without a license on at least 20 individuals. The “doctors” injected non-FDA-approved substances into people’s faces, torsos, and buttocks, causing their victims to suffer life-threatening infections and disfigurement.
     
  • In 2001, at El Centro de Estetica, an unlicensed physician performed plastic surgery on seven women, permanently scarring five of them. The unlicensed doctor used non-sterile tablecloths purchased at budget outlets for surgical covers, closed incisions with Crazy Glue, and injected patients with illegal substances.
     

The current ASAPS patient safety campaign includes Spanish translation of key news releases and patient advisories on the Society's website (www.surgery.org). ASAPS also has among its national membership many Spanish-speaking surgeons who are available for print, television and radio interviews to discuss patient safety, and how patients can protect themselves from unscrupulous practitioners.

“People need to have realistic expectations about plastic surgery and to understand that undergoing any medical or surgical procedure is a serious matter,” says Michael McGuire, MD, Chair of ASAPS Public Education Committee. “Selecting a surgeon should not be about bargain-hunting. It should be about training, credentials and experience.”

ASAPS sponsors a patient hotline, 1.888.ASAPS.11 (272.7711), to provide referrals to qualified, board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic surgery. Surgeon referrals are also available online on the ASAPS website, www.surgery.org.

About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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