5 Steps to Prevent Legal Trouble in Your Med Spa

By: Alex Thiersch

A medical spa will likely encounter a number of unforeseen stumbling blocks during its existence. Although the business is complicated, understanding the following five pieces of advice can help tremendously.

1. Keep in mind that medical spas are medical facilities. It’s not surprising that many medical spa pros think that medical aesthetic facilities operate under the same set of regulations that govern the non-medical facilities with which they are often associated. However, medical spas are medical facilities and must be operated as such. This is the most important piece of advice a healthcare attorney can give medical spa professionals who are operating medical spas.

2. Understand your corporate structure. Because medical spas are medical facilities, their corporate structures are more important than you might think. The regulations governing medical practices in most states recognize the “corporate practice of medicine,” which states that medical practices must be owned by physicians or physician-owned corporations. This can impact several aspects of medical spa ownership.

3. Do not reward employees with commissions. In states that observe the corporate practice of medicine, payment for medical services must be made in full to the owner of the practice—a physician or physician-owned corporation. If a practice rewards employees for bringing in clients with a percentage of their payments, it would constitute fee-splitting, which is often illegal in these states. You can, however, reward employees with a structured bonus system.

4. Make sure a medical  professional is always onsite. It’s fairly uncommon that the physician who owns or operates a medical spa is in the building. However, proper delegation and supervision must be practiced at all times. A physician is typically allowed to delegate day-to-day activities to other medical professionals, and having a mid-level practitioner—either a nurse practitioner or physician assistant—onsite to supervise the non-licensed employees who administer treatments helps to keep the practice safe from lawsuits that may arise.

5. Consult a healthcare attorney as soon as possible. Even though it might seem cost-prohibitive when you’re opening a medical spa, it is in your best interest to engage a healthcare attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can advise you about the numerous issues that can hamstring an aesthetics practice. An attorney can help you create contracts that conform to your state’s laws. An attorney can also help you understand how to best utilize marketing tools, such as social media, and how to make sure that you respect patient privacy at all times. It’s often said that it costs twice as much for an attorney to fix a problem than it would to prevent that problem from occurring in the first place, so make sure to consult a healthcare lawyer as soon as you get a chance, if you haven’t already.

If you run a medical spa practice, there’s a high probability that you’re going to get sued at some point. However, if you heed the advice presented in this column, you will help to protect yourself from potentially disastrous consequences.

This article was originally published in American Spa magazine.  

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