x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cosmetic surgery clinic closed after audit finds unlicensed staff

Health chiefs alerted after former patient sent SMS message and pics of burns suffered during a procedure.

ABU DHABI // A cosmetic surgery clinic that employed unlicensed staff to carry out treatments has been closed down, the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (Haad) says.

Cosmo Health Medical Polyclinics in Al Ain was audited last week after doctors at Haad received text messages and pictures from a former patient who claimed she suffered burns during her procedure.

The Emirati woman, who did not reveal her identity, became suspicious after going in for laser hair removal.

"I felt, during the session, pain and burning but I was told it was normal," she said.

The clinic, which opened on September 26 last year, was found to have five unlicensed members of staff carrying out treatments, some of whom unwittingly aided the authority during the investigation.

"Some dental treatments were being carried out by an unlicensed professional," said Dr Mohammed Bader Al Seiari, the director of health-system compliance at Haad.

"He was doing the procedures without a licence to practise and was signing the patient reports with his name. It was stupid for him but it made our life easier."

Haad officials said they were told about a female doctor who offered a patient a treatment that would help "cure" her of any cosmetic problems. It involved drawing blood, mixing it with beauty products such as oils, then reinjecting it.

"She said no, which was a smart move," said Dr Al Seiari.

Another patient, who was interrupted in a session by one of the auditors, fainted after being told of the reasons for the investigation.

"She said she had been going for four months," said Dr Al Seiari. "It was shocking news."

The chief executive of the clinic, who did not reveal his name, said he "didn't know" the audit was taking place.

The clinic compromised people's health, said Dr Al Seiari, who admitted that a shortage of auditors allowed it stay open for as long as it did.

"We have almost 30 auditors who cover 1,200 facilities in Abu Dhabi, so there is no way you can cover, audit and keep a close eye on all of them all of the time," he said.

During the audit it was discovered that staff had licences approved by the Ministry Labour for positions such as beauticians. But this did not allow them to carry out medical procedures.

Only health professionals licensed by Haad have this authority, said Dr Al Seiari.

The licences of the staff have since been suspended and the Ministry of Labour has been notified.

This year, the Dubai discount website Cobone.com offered one session of laser hair removal at the clinic for Dh1,249. The deal was bought by 35 people.

"The Cobone team have been actively calling the people who bought the voucher to offer them a refund," said Paul Kenny, the website's chief executive.

zalhassani@thenational.ae