New law restricting the use of the title ‘surgeon’

21 Sep 2023

by Leanne Houston

Surgical procedure close-up

The Medical Board of Australia has announced new legislation which will protect the title of ‘surgeon’ within the medical profession after the proposed Bill was passed by the Qld Parliament on 12 September 2023.

The amendments in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Surgeons) Amendment Act 2023 (the Act) will ensure that doctors who call themselves ‘surgeon’ must have specialist surgical training. This is in direct response to the recognised confusion around use of the title ‘surgeon,’ particularly in the cosmetic surgery sector.

The Act does not restrict the use of the title by practitioners in other health professions such as podiatric and dental surgeons, but it sends a clear message that any attempt to mislead patients as to a doctor’s qualifications or experience will not be tolerated.

Some of the changes include:

  • The title ‘surgeon’ will be restricted to doctors who hold specialist registration in one of three surgical classes: surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, and ophthalmology.
  • The amendments protect the use of the title ‘surgeon’ both in isolation and in combination with other words.
  • It will be an offence for a medical practitioner who is not a member of an approved surgical class to knowingly or recklessly use the title ‘surgeon,’ or to otherwise hold themselves out as being a surgeon.
  • The new offences are indictable and carry a maximum penalty of $60,000, or three-years imprisonment or both for an individual or $120,000 for a body corporate.

Further information about the changes can be accessed here.


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This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters.



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