Press Release
9 October 2012

Call to regulate organizations that provide medical and beauty procedures

9 October 2012

The Hong Kong Medical Association is deeply concerned about the recent medical blunder that left several people in critical condition from septic shock after receiving transfusion of blood components in a chain cosmetic saloon. We express our deep condolences to those affected, and wish them speedy recovery.

Since 2003, the Association has repeatedly advised the Government to regulate health care institutions and medical equipment. In 2006, the Association proposed to the Legislative Council that all material to be injected, or implanted into the body has to be registered, and allowable only on proof of harmlessness by the manufacturer. Such procedures, whether carried out by needle injection or by surgery, will be a medical procedure, and may only be performed by a registered medical practitioner with the necessary training. In 2010, we suggested the Government to regulate the usage and storage of stem cells. We regret that the Government, by disregarding our call, has been putting the safety of the public at stake for years. Had the Government put public safety foremost and acted timely, this tragedy would not have taken place.

We appeal to all doctors to comply with Section 17,18, 20 of the Code of Professional Conduct issued by the Medical Council of Hong Kong. Doctors shall not associate themselves with non-qualified persons accordingly. Doctors bear the responsibility to adequately explain to patients the efficacy and potential complications of a medical procedure. Patients have the right to know of alternatives other than the proposed procedure in any given circumstances. Section 22.3 stipulates requirements doctors have to follow before carrying a new procedure. An informed consent is one of the requirements.

The Association advises the public to be on the lookout for pseudo-science. In order to protect your own health, always seek professional advice from registered doctors prior to medical procedures. Make sure you do not consent to a procedure unless and until you have full understanding of its need, how it is carried out, the risks involved, and if alternatives are available.

We strongly urge the government to legislate and regulate institutions that claim to provide "medical cosmetics" or other medical services. "Medical treatment" should be clearly defined in Law so as to protect the public. We propose that the Undesirable Medical Advertisement Ordinance, Cap. 231, be extended to encompass cosmetic advertising of a false or exaggerated nature, and those without scientific proof.

Finally, the Association urges the Law Enforcement and the Department of Health to thoroughly investigate the incident, to reveal the truth and prosecute those responsible.

Notes to editors:
The Hong Kong Medical Association, founded in 1920, aims to bring together Hong Kong's government, institutional, university and private medical practitioners for an effective exchange of views and co-ordination of efforts. The foremost objective of the Association is to safeguard and promote public health. The Association speaks collectively for its members and aims to keep its members abreast of medical ethics, issues and advances around the world. In fulfilling these goals, the association hopes to better serve the people of Hong Kong.

Enquiries : Ms. Candy YUEN
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