Sunday, June 10, 2012

California Medical Board Increases Investigations, Search Warrants And Arrests In Medical Spas And Practices Offering Laser Skin and Hair Procedures, Botox and Injectibles: Time To Make Sure Your Practice Is Compliant!

If your medical practice or medical spa offers laser hair removal, botox, injectibles, laser skin treatment, or sales of prescribed items such as Latisse or Retin A – it is time to make sure your practice is compliant. Why? The Medical Board of California is aggressively investigating the unlicensed practice of medicine. It has a separate department called “Operation Safe Medicine.” 

This investigation is not limited to backroom medical practices but includes practices owned by physicians where the level of medical supervision is not sufficient, nurses operate a laser for hair removal where there has not been a good faith or "directed" medical exam by a physician or advanced practitioners such as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, and receptionists selling Latisse to patients without a good faith medical exam and prescription. Nurses who are used to hospital settings are often surprised at the requirements in a clinic setting for seemingly routine procedures such as laser hair removal. 

If you are a “medical director” for any practice offering these medical services or a plastic surgeon or dermatologist using nurses, it is critical that the practice is compliant since you could be charged with aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine.

I recently concluded a criminal case where a physician did a “favor” and agreed to be an unpaid medical director for a location offering laser hair removal but did not have any presence at the facility. This led to a criminal case being filed and disciplinary charges. The case was resolved where the physician kept her license but if there had been compliance and the physician understood the law at the beginning – the case never would have happened. 

I had another case where a plastic surgeon client allowed an independent contractor registered nurse to inject Botox without a good faith medical exam by the physician. The compliance changes I drafted were instituted immediately and the Medical Board investigation was closed without incident. I have had numerous cases where compliance was successfully instituted to avoid the possibility of any Medical Board complaints or investigations.

Why am I writing this article? Just in the last three weeks, I know of 3 cases where there have been search warrants and/or arrests. Apart from the cases I am handling, the Medical Board issued a press release on June 8, 2012 where it announced the arrests and felony charges against a non-medical owner of Laser Solutions in Beverly Hills, CA for practicing medicine without a license. 

In the past OSM has focused on a variety of unlicensed practices (selling contact lenses without prescriptions, unlicensed midwifes, etc.) but lately the cosmetic practices are targeted. The climate is not favorable for these practices and the Medical Board is sending in undercover agents. There have been hearings at the Medical Board about the level of supervision for nurses in medical spas and cosmetic practices and one of the outcomes of these hearings was increased enforcement. 

How do these cases get initiated? Often they are complaints from competitors or former employees. The complaints are rarely filed by patients. In my experience, I have seen physicians and nurses remain vastly ignorant of the rules and regulations and unintentionally violate the law. If your practice is not compliant or you are not sure, now is the time to change your practices and procedures. In some cases, ownership also needs to be modified. Seek experience counsel and become compliant. Do not fear that by making changes you will be admitting guilt. Just become compliant.

Attorney Information: Posted by Tracy Green, Esq. Please email Ms. Green at or call her at 213-233-2260 to schedule a complimentary telephonic or in-person 30-minute consultation.  

 Any questions or comments should be directed to Tracy Green a very experienced Medical Board attorney, health care litigation attorney, medical spa attorney, physician attorney, and nurse attorney. She is very familiar with the issues of ownership, corporate practice of medicine, unlicensed practice of medicine and related issues in cosmetic areas. The firm website is:


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