A group of women has brought a class action against Australia’s largest cosmetic surgery provider, The Cosmetic Institute (TCI), alleging negligence during breast augmentation procedures left them with life-threatening complications.
The case, filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court, claims TCI breached its duty of care to patients by utilising a “one size fits all” approach to breast augmentations.
A statement of claim also alleges the company’s staff lacked the capacity to access urgent medical assistance in emergencies, and the clinics did not have adequate infection controls.
“These women have suffered a range of complications including cardiac arrests from toxic doses of anaesthesia, lung punctures, infections, and physical disfigurement,” said lawyer Sally Gleeson from Turner Freeman.
One of the five lead applicants is a Western Australian woman who in 2015 went into cardiac arrest during a breast augmentation at TCI’s Parramatta clinic.
The other participants include a New South Wales woman who suffered seizures during her procedure, and a Queensland student who required emergency surgery after developing a severe post-operative infection.
“The Cosmetic Institute has left a trail of victims who were promised top-quality cosmetic surgery in a highly advanced medical setting, but instead have suffered serious injuries and ongoing pain and suffering as a result of their treatment,” Ms Gleeson said.
The class action also alleges TCI used identical surgical techniques on almost all patients, regardless of their size or breast shape, which has resulted in poorly positioned implants and scarring.
The Cosmetic Institute describes itself as the “largest” breast enhancement clinic in Australia.
It has clinics in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Melbourne, offering breast augmentations for $5,990.
Last year, the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission investigation found The Cosmetic Institute appeared to be giving high doses of anaesthetic to patients without their consent.
“Adrenaline was used routinely (in combination with local anaesthetic agents) … at well above the accepted upper limit of safe dosage,” the report found.
It found the clinics “placed the health and safety of members of the public at risk”.
Ms Gleeson told the ABC she’s been approached by several hundred women who were unhappy with their surgeries at TCI since 2014.
“If we take TCI’s claims on their website to be accurate, they have performed breast augmentations on thousands of women, so I wouldn’t be surprised if more women continue to come forward,” she said.
“Every patient deserves competent treatment and follow up care. This class action is about delivering justice for this large group of women who continue to suffer from the impact of TCI’s failures to appropriately and safely carry out these procedures.”
The Cosmetic Institute said it would not be discussing the case publicly.
“Should this matter proceed, we will be defending any allegations made against TCI,” the company said in a statement to the ABC.