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‘Smelt burning skin’: Cosmetic clinic’s botched tattoo removal

A Melbourne discount cosmetic treatment centre has lost its appeal in the Supreme Court after causing second-degree burns to a client during a botched tattoo removal.

A County Court judge had earlier ordered CDC Clinic in Armadale to pay the woman $90,000 in compensation, but the business later appealed that decision, citing there was no evidence it caused the burns.

The clinic also submitted that the judge rejected a note from the treating nurse.

According to court documents, the client visited the clinic in July 2017 to have a tattoo removed from her arm.

The woman said a nurse “administered a lot of injections” and she remembered “skin flickering off” and smelling burnt skin. She also “noticed visible holes” in her arm.

The court was told the woman had previously had laser treatment at a different clinic and did not experience any pain then.

She told the nurse that she was in pain but was given more numbing treatment and the nurse responded by saying she would “turn it (the machine) up” so the woman would not need as many removal treatments, court documents revealed.

Once the anaesthetic wore off, the woman felt like “her arm was on fire”.

The CDC Clinic submitted to court that it spoke to the woman about the risks involved but did not mention the possibility of blistering.

A few days later the woman visited a GP who noted that she had “second-degree burns” and should see a plastic surgeon.

Cynthia Weinstein.
Camera IconFormer CDC Clinic director Cynthia Weinstein merged two files so the most recent one regarding the patient could not be found. Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia

The following day she was hospitalised after the burns became infected and was prescribed antibiotics. The burns eventually scarred.

“She said that it was very embarrassing having the scars, and she experienced a lot of anxiety about them,” court documents stated.

The woman didn’t immediately pursue plastic surgery treatment because she couldn’t afford it. When she visited a surgeon almost six months later, he told her the scarring was a result of the tattoo removal, the court was told.

Court documents also stated that Cynthia Weinstein, the former director of CDC Clinic, had found two files under the client’s name and merged them “so no traces of the recently found files remained in the system”.

The Court of Appeal judges on Thursday quashed the appeal.

In their reasons they stated there was other evidence that “cast doubt” over the note from the practising nurse.

They said clinical notes were clear and consistent and had drawn on medical evidence and photographs.

“To the contrary, His Honour’s findings were clearly open to his Honour and certainly not glaringly improbable,” court documents read.

Ms Weinstein was previously fined in 2016 after misleading patients into believing she was a registered medical practitioner.

She was ordered to pay $60,000 in costs and fines.

Ms Weinstein was formerly a doctor but surrendered her medical registration in 2010.

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