Accused of a ‘cookie-cutter approach to surgery’
A class action lawsuit has been launched against an Australian cosmetic surgery company specialising in breast augmentations. According to lawyers for the women, The Cosmetic Institute (TCI) performed more than 5,000 cosmetic procedures each year, most of them breast augmentations. A lawyer with Turner Freeman, the firm representing them, claims that as many as 1,000 women may have had botched surgery.
TCI was founded in 2012 by businessman David Segal and surgeon Dr Eddy Dona to compete with cheap cosmetic surgery overseas in countries like Thailand and Vietnam. It was able to lower fees by creating its own in-house operating theatre. “We wanted to show the medical industry was no different to anyone else,” Segal told a business magazine in 2014. “Whether you’re selling T-shirts or boobs or whatever the case may be, it’s about value and service.”
The TCI website still spruiks its product as “Breast implants for the price of a coffee a day”.
The business model worked well for a while. After only 18 months TCI was described as one of the 20 fastest growing companies in Australia. But then complaints started to roll in.
Turner Freeman’s lawyers claim that the negligence of TCI’s doctors left a number of patients with serious complications, ranging from cardiac arrests to physical disfigurement.
A whistleblower nurse who worked at TCI for three years told a Parliamentary inquiry in New South Wales: “You're talking about a low socio-economic group who are taking on a loan for $20 a week and getting a boob job for the cost of a coffee a day, that's how it was advertised.”
The lawyer leading the class action, Sally Gleeson, told The Australian: “We’ll allege the cosmetic industry and Dr Eddy Dona breached their duty of care,” she said. “They essentially created a one-size-fits-all approach akin to the McDonald’s of the fast-food chain or a cookie-cutter approach to surgery, irrespective of the different anatomies or needs of the individual.
“We’ll allege the whole approach to surgery didn’t comply with reasonable medical practice and those deficiencies led to horrific outcomes ranging from clients who suffered cardiac arrest, seizures, lung punctures and very poor aesthetic outcomes including deformities and ongoing … psychological consequences.”
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