More than ever, states are getting directly involved in the regulation of the medical aesthetics industry. In September 2015, Boston’s WBZ-TV aired an investigation into complaints about injuries at local medical spas that led Massachusetts to crack down on noncompliant facilities. Texas recently changed its laws to make it more difficult for medical spas to operate. California created a task force to look into the ways that medical spas are regulated.
Media reports about the medical spa industry are appearing with increasing regularity. Phoenix’s KPNX aired an investigative piece about noncompliant laser clinics in October 2015,1 and The Doctors examined the dangers of medical spas.2 Once these reports express the industry’s problems to the public, regulators respond.
So if your practice is not entirely compliant with your state’s medical statutes, it is in your best interest to identify the ways in which it falls short and address them now.
Negative media reports do point out real problems. Many medical spas are operating illegally, and untrained, unqualified employees are burning patients with lasers, among other serious violations.
Medical spas and laser centers nationwide have become so popular—and profitable—that some owners rush to open them, and they are often not properly formed and not compliant with state and local statutes. Traditionally, there has not been a great deal of enforcement. But state regulatory agencies can no longer ignore violations. Patients who suffer unforeseen outcomes take their stories straight to the media. Personal injury attorneys advertise to consumers to sue.
The time has come for medical spa owners and operators to ask themselves how they can become an industry that regulates itself, so they reduce issues with state regulators.
The following steps can help you on the road to compliance:
• Know the law. While there are grey areas, many answers can be found in state’s practice acts.
• Reach out to local healthcare attorneys for evaluation. Be proactive; contact a lawyer early on to prevent trouble down the road.
• Turn to support associations. AmSpa3 and others aim to bring clarity to the regulatory landscape.
• Work toward understanding. Know the core principles regarding medical practice, and acknowledge that there is still some level of danger.
AmSpa pledges to continue its efforts to educate medical spa owners and operators to make sure they are operating in compliance with the law. It also aspires to educate the public about what constitutes a compliant medical spa. AmSpa is also pushing for standardization of laser training across the industry.
Alex R. Thiersch, JD, is the founder and director of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) and the new AmSpaMD, which provide legal and regulatory counsel for medical aesthetics practices. He can be reached at [email protected].
1. Burned: Laser Clinics Largely Uninspected. Available at: http://www.12news.com/story/news/investigative/2015/10/27/burned-laser-clinics-largely-uninspected/74645184. Accessed January 9, 2016.
2. The Doctors. “Med Spa Dangers.” Available at: http://www.thedoctorstv.com/videos/med-spa-dangers. Accessed January 9, 2016.
3. American Med Spa Association. Available at: http://www.americanmedspa.org.