As medical spas continue to increase in popularity across the country, obstetricians, family practice doctors, dermatologists, and even ER physicians are jumping at the opportunity to become a part of this successful industry.
But being a “Medical Director” of a medical spa includes certain responsibilities and inherent risks. Even though medical spas sometimes look more like casual day spas with the majority of medical procedures being very low-risk with few injuries or bad outcomes, in many states those services are considered the practice of medicine. As a result, medical spas are subject to the same rules and regulations as any physician’s office.
Many states, Texas and Illinois included, require that the physician own the medical spa and have complete control, not just serve as a consultant and contract with a non-physician owned company to operate the medical spa. It is also key that a physician serving as a Medical Director specializes in, or at least has experience and training in aesthetic medicine. Frequently, general practitioners, OB/GYN’s and even plastic surgeons are quick to sign on as a Medical Director even though they have no training or experience in injectables, laser treatments, or other aesthetic procedures.
This experience is important for a physician to comply with the sometimes onerous supervision and delegation laws in a state. A physician must have experience in the types of medical services being offered at the medical spa before allowing nurses or other health practitioners to perform these services under the physician’s license.
But, oftentimes physicians do not understand that becoming a Medical Director means that they are assuming ultimate responsibility for all of the patients that are seen and treated at the medical spa. In fact, physicians can be stripped of their medical license and charged with fines and penalties for operating a medical practice illegally.
The medical spa business can be very lucrative for physicians but before signing on the dotted line of medical directorship, physicians should consult with an attorney experienced in medical spa law to assure that they are not risking their medical license or their career.