Laser treatments are a key part of the medical aesthetics industry, and medical aesthetic facilities, medical spas, and laser centers offer a variety of laser procedures that can help patients deal with a range of skin issues. But the laws and regulations surrounding the use of lasers are poorly defined in many states, so it is important for physicians, owners, and operators to understand what they must do to provide these services in ways that help protect them from legal repercussions.
In most states, the majority of laser treatments are classified as medical procedures. This means that these treatments are subject to the same rules and regulations as procedures conducted at any medical office and typically must be administered by a physician or delegated to a trained practitioner, such as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner with a health history or good-faith exam preceding the treatment. Given that many facilities tend to function as retail outlets rather than medical offices, and that laser equipment typically seems easy to operate, this might seem to be holding these businesses to a very high standard. But the law is clear, so most laser procedures must be viewed as medical treatments.
This also means that facilities that provide laser procedures must make sure to abide by other regulations that are typically aimed at more traditional medical practices. For example, in most states, a medical facility must be owned by a physician or a physician-owned corporation, and all payments for medical treatments must be made in full to those entities. Therefore, a medical facility cannot pay an employee a percentage of the cost of a medical treatment as commission, which is illegal and referred to as fee-splitting.