Hundreds of Australian women have alleged negligence during breast augmentation procedures left them with complications including heart attacks, seizures, infections and chest wall deformities.
A class action filed in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday alleges that Australia's largest cosmetic surgery provider, The Cosmetic Institute, breached its duty of care to patients in New South Wales and Queensland by failing to implement adequate infection control procedures, supervise anaesthetists and properly train surgeons.
Five women are leading the class action, including a Western Australian woman who suffered a heart attack after being administered high doses of local anaesthetic.
Other lead plaintiffs include a New South Wales mother who suffered seizures as a result of high doses of local anaesthetic, and a student from Queensland 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," Turner Freeman partner Sally Gleeson, who is representing the women, said.
The women are also taking action against Sydney plastic surgeon and director of the institute, Dr Eddy Dona, who they allege designed, implemented and supervised a "one-size-fits-all" approach to breast augmentation surgery.
The institute implemented identical surgical techniques regardless of the patient's size or breast shape, which put patients at increased risk of complications, the class action claims.
“These women believed that the doctors treating them were surgeons who possessed the requisite skills and training to carry out these operations, but the reality of the situation was quite different," Gleeson said.
“As a result, these women have suffered a range of complications including cardiac arrests from toxic doses of anaesthesia, lung punctures, infections and physical disfigurement. In many cases, they have needed to undergo a number of additional surgeries to rectify the damage."
The institute has clinics across Sydney, the Gold Coast and Melbourne, and breast augmentations start from around $6,000.
"We will not be discussing legal matters with the media," a spokesperson for The Cosmetic Institute told BuzzFeed News.
"Should this matter proceed, we will be defending any allegations made against TCI."
In April last year, a NSW Health Care Complaints Commission report leaked to the ABC found women getting breast implants at the Sydney institute were given dangerously high doses of drugs that could cause cardiac arrests.
Six patients over a 12-month period had suffered potentially life-threatening complications while getting breast implants, including rapid heartbeat, seizures and cardiac arrest, the report found.
"Adrenaline was used routinely (in combination with local anaesthetic agents) ... at well above the accepted upper limit of safe dosage," the report found.
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.