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Why Medical Spas Fail Reason #6: Poor Liability Protection

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Liability protection is not just about properly medical malpractice coverage, it’s about several layers of protection within your aesthetic practice that help to insulate you from the potential you will be sued.  While you can never completely protect yourself from lawsuits, the following areas can serve as extra layers of protection:

1) Newer, Safer Equipment.  The newer equipment on the market has become more user-friendly and safer to use.  Using older technology can be much more “expertise” driven and in the wrong hands, can have disastrous results.  Some of the problems with older technology is inadequate cooling on the skin, a lack of ongoing calibration and maintenance of the older equipment, and a poor user-friendly interface that helps ensure the operator provides a safe treatment.  While newer equipment can never replace someone who has been properly trained in the safe user of lasers, it goes a long way to help prevent adverse reactions from occurring in the first place.

2) A Very Client-Friendly Practice.  It is important that your practice develops client friendly procedures within your practice.  Some of these include:  all clients who have received a procedure should receive a follow up clinical telephone call the day after treatment to make sure they are responding well to treatment.   Research has shown that most malpractice problems arise when patients feel they have no other recourse but to sue.   You should encourage your customers to contact you if they are dissatisified for any reason.   If they have any concerns regarding their treatment, you want to hear from them.  Doctors are required to be accessible telephone if they need to contact any client who is concerned for any reason.

3) Consent Forms Signed by Each Client.  Prior to receiving any treatment at your clinic, your clients should be required to read and sign an informed consent form that explains the risks associated with the treatment they are undergoing.  Typical risks include blistering, hyperpigmentation, and hypopigmentation.   In the event any of these adverse events happen to any client, you have signed a consent form that documents the client was aware of the risks prior to undergoing treatment.  If legal action is taken, you will have the consent form as proof that the client was aware of the risks of treatment.  Adverse events are very rare, however, and typically resolve over time so there is no lasting negative effect.  If no permanent damage remains, then there is no case for legal action.

4) Using FDA Approved Devices and Cosmetic Substances.  It is important to use only FDA approved devices and substances.  If anything were to go wrong during the treatment, the fact that a client was given an FDA approved treatment limits your clinic’s liability dramatically.  As long as you follow the guidelines for use with those FDA approved substances and devices, you are on very safe ground.

5) The Issue of Permanent Damage.  In order for a malpractice suit to hold up in court, there must be evidence of permanent damage.  In virtually every case with non-invasive cosmetic procedures, any damage caused to the client is typically temporary.  A good example would be hyperpigmentation.  In every case, hyperpigmentation will go away, leaving NO causation for someone to sue the center.

6)  Onsite Physician Providers.  The vast majority of reported lawsuits stemming from cosmetic procedures have been performed by poorly trained non-physicians who did not receive adequate physician supervision.  Having an on-site physician who has been trained and certified to perform and supervise all clinical procedures allows you to bypass a lot of the potential pitfalls of a standard “Medspa”

7) Arbitration Agreement Signed by Each Patient.  A signed arbitration agreement should be required of every client prior that undergoes any treatment offered at your clinic.  The arbitration agreement requires that any dispute that arises between a client and your practice will be determined by submission to arbitration as provided by state law and not by a lawsuit.  Both parties give up their constitutional rights to have any dispute decided in a court of law before a jury, and instead are accepting the use of arbitration.

8)  Professional Liability Insurance.  The final layer of protection is professional liability insurance.  You want to make sure you have a policy that covers both the physician and all individuals who are performing any aesthetic treatment under the doctor’s supervision.  The good news is there are now many insurance programs available for aesthetic practices and the price for coverage is very competitively priced.

Vin Wells, MHSA
www.RockBottomLasers.com
800-794-1097

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