In the United States, laser hair removal medical malpractice suits are quickly on the rise. In the past 20 years, as cosmetic surgeries have become more commonly conducted medical procedures, there has been an increased prevalence of laser hair removal suits. In fact laser hair removal, which uses laser devices to extract hair from the body, have quickly become the most commonly performed cosmetic surgeries in the United States.
Furthermore, laser hair removal procedures are some of the most commonly litigated cosmetic procedures, quickly surpassing plastic surgery suits. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Dermatology Network in a recent study found that laser hair removal was involved in 36.2% of cosmetic medical malpractice cases, followed by rejuvenation procedures, which accounted for 24.7% of litigated procedures.
The Facts About Laser Hair Removal Suits in the U.S.
The most common injuries that are the subject of laser hair removal suits and litigation are burns, which are the stated injury of 47% of laser hair removal cases. Next in line are scars resulting from laser hair removal, which make up 38.8% of suits, followed by skin pigment alterations, consisting of 23.5% of cosmetic surgeries. The (JAMA) Dermatology Network reported that these suits predominantly list a physician as the main defendant, even when the physician did not actually perform the laser hair removal procedure. This indicates that liability for laser hair removal injuries lies firmly on the physician, who must take on at a minimum a supervisory, if not active operator role, in the laser hair removal procedure.
Legal Treatment of Laser Hair Removal
Currently, there is no significant federal guidance regarding the use of lasers on skin, nor specific requirements for the training and supervision required to legally operate lasers for cosmetic surgery purposes. However, trends in past litigation indicate that physicians will be held predominately liable for injuries, even if they did not personally operate the laser device used to conduct the procedure. In fact, the JAMA Dermatology study found that non-physicians were named in only around 20% of laser hair removals. In contrast, plastic surgeons, physicians and dermatologists were named as the main defendant/operator in over 50% of laser hair removal malpractice cases.
Laser Removal and the Law in Illinois
Under Illinois Administrative Code Chapter Title 68, Part 1285.336, medical professionals are the only parties permitted to perform laser hair removal procedures. Specifically, a licensed physician, or a trained employee working under the supervision of a licensed physician, are the only parties permitted to conduct laser hair removals. Thus, this rule excludes cosmetologists and estheticians from using lasers as a tool for laser removal.
Further, when the physician is in a supervisory capacity for a laser hair removal procedure, the supervisor must be accessible to the non-physician at all times during the procedure via. telephone or other comparable electronic means. The supervising physician is also held accountable for ensuring that the non-physician employee is properly trained for the procedure being conducted. Contact our attorneys today if you would like more information about your rights regarding a personal injury you experienced from a laser hair removal procedure.
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