A Harley Street plastic surgeon was condemned for his ‘flippant, cavalier and deplorable’ attitude by a Manchester medical disciplinary panel yesterday as he was suspended for giving tips to nurses on how to illegally administer Botox to patients.
Dr Mark Harrison, 51, charged £400 a head for a training course in which he advised attendees how to illegally split Botox measures prescribed for one patient so they could be used on other people.
It was claimed he even suggested they secretly use saline solutions to ‘top up’ the amounts.
Harrison, Managing Director of Harley Aesthetics, was exposed during a covert BBC investigation in 2012.
Acting on a tip-off, a BBC London journalist posed as a trainee nurse to secretly film the doctor during one of his ‘Introduction to Botox’ training courses.
It was claimed the medic who lives in a £4milliom townhouse in Kensington, London, told nurses to use Botox on a patient which had been prescribed to another and actively encouraged them to not pay adequate regard to a patient’s medical history before administering Botox.
On a recording Dr Harrison was filmed telling the nurses: “Strictly speaking a vial with a patient’s name on should only be used on that patient. We use it on a number of people.
“Is it ever an issue? No. It is not legal, but it’s what everybody does… Doctors, professors, me. Just order a vial in your name – it’s not policed at all.”
He also held ‘telephone consultations’ with what he believed were patients not realising the calls were being covertly recorded as part of the investigation.
When confronted with the evidence, Dr Harrison suggested the BBC had colluded with the General Medical Council but treated the complaints as a ‘game’, claimed he was a victim of ‘entrapment’and said: “For me it’s about winning.”
At a Fitness to Practice hearing at the Medical Practitioners in Manchester the panel said Harrison’s fitness to practise was impaired and suspended him from practising for 12 months after he was found guilty of misconduct. The surgeon was not at the hearing.
In making its determination the panel said: “The findings against Dr Harrison are wide-ranging, some are repeated and involve the potential to place patients at risk of harm.
“His conduct fell far short of the standards to be expected, could properly be described as deplorable.
“The panel is concerned that Dr Harrison has not demonstrated any level of understanding of the concerns raised.
“He has had a significant length of time to reflect on all the matters and even in his email dated 25 November 2014, he has not accepted any real criticism and made what the panel considered to be a flippant comment in saying ‘OK, I was a bit misleading!’.
“There has been no recognition by Dr Harrison that his practice could have significant patient safety implications and bring the profession into disrepute.
“He holds a distorted view of the concerns raised, placing undue reliance on his claim that there had been no patient complaints. The absence of patient complaints cannot automatically mean that a doctor is practising in a safe manner.
“Additionally, Dr Harrison’s dishonesty shows a complete disdain for his regulatory body. There has been no acknowledgement that he acted dishonestly nor has he shown any contrition.
“The panel considers that Dr Harrison lacks insight, does not accept any wrongdoing and is liable in the future to put patients at risk of harm.
“Dr Harrison has demonstrated a cavalier attitude to some of the concerns raised.”
Dr Harrison’s company Harley Aesthetics was one of the UK’s largest purchasers of Botox, with each treatment starting from £200.
In telephone calls, recorded before he was suspended for 18 months in July 2012, the company, on behalf of Harrison, issued Botox in the name of patients for who it was not intended to be used, it was said.
It also advised the use of Botox on a patient which had been prescribed to another and advised a nurse to administer Botox without obtaining a prescription or ensuring the patient had a consultation with the prescriber, the General Medical Council heard.
It was claimed Dr Harrison then attempted to conduct a consultation with a new patient after the Botox had already been injected.
Dr Harrison and Harley Aesthetics were accused of ‘remote prescribing’ – prescribing injectable medicines over the phone or online.
It was said he encouraged nurses to administer medication without any face to face consultation, and said patients could telephone him afterwards for a check-up.
He had built up a network of hundreds of nurses who phoned him on his mobile from across the UK to receive authorisation to inject patients immediately with Botox.
In a letter to the panel Dr Harrison said: “I can understand that on a busy ward with lots of different vials and lots of different patients, to use vials between patients would be dangerous. It would be unacceptable.
“However, in the context of Botox where you have a single practitioner administering a single medication to one patient at a time, I would contend that that is not dangerous, but I have not been accused of doing it. So, I do not encourage nurses to do that.”
He added: “I deeply regret that my pragmatic approach to patient safety has been accompanied by what many would regard (myself included) as a maverick attitude to the views and advice of the regulatory bodies.”
The case comes after the GMC banned doctors remotely prescribing injectable cosmetic medicines, such as Botox, on the phone, fax or online, without a face-to-face consultation.
Image courtesy of Oceanview Medical Weight Loss Spa Of Frrisco, with thanks.