The world’s largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons is taking action to warn patients to investigate their doctor’s qualifications before undergoing plastic surgery procedures.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) launched a new public safety campaign on the heels of a string of incidents involving plastic surgeries gone wrong during procedures performed by non-board-certified plastic surgeons. The new campaign was unveiled during the recent 2011 ASPS Annual Meeting in Denver.

"Patients are getting injured, some are dying during procedures performed by non-board-certified plastic surgeons," according to Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, ASPS President. "We want patients to understand what to ask their doctor and what to look for so that they can maximize their chance of a safe and successful procedure."

The message in the new ASPS Public Service Announcement focuses on exposing what plastic surgery industry leaders call "white coat deception." Roth explained that just because a doctor wears a white coat does not mean he or she is qualified to perform plastic surgery.

"There is a misconception among consumers that as long as a doctor is certified in a medical field that he or she is qualified to practice plastic surgery. This is absolutely wrong and it is dangerous for patients," Roth says. "If you are considering a plastic surgery procedure it is critical that your doctor is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This is the best way to be certain that he or she has completed the necessary training and meets certain standards to practice plastic surgery."

Consumers may wonder how doctors who are not board certified in plastic surgery are able to perform such procedures. The reason is that it is perfectly legal in the United States for any doctor with a medical license to practice in any medical field. Only four states — California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas — have tough Truth-In-Advertising measures on the books which require medical providers to be more transparent about their training.

"Today when you get your medical license you can practice in any medical field that you choose," according to Steven Teitelbaum, MD, an ASPS member surgeon who practices in the Los Angeles area. "What should happen is that every state medical board should say, ‘if you’re trained in pediatrics you are allowed to practice pediatrics and if you’re trained in orthopedics you can practice orthopedics.’ But, unfortunately, most state laws and regulations enable some physicians to drift into the practice of plastic surgery without proper training and certification. It has become increasingly apparent that some physicians fail to use proper judgment and enter into practice areas beyond their core training," he said.

[Source: ASPS]