10
Dec

5 Legal Considerations to Address Before Opening Your Own Practice

Opening your own medical practice of any kind is a complex process that can easily become overwhelming. 

You’ve done the training. 

You’ve mastered the techniques. 

You’re ready to practice. But what are some of the many considerations to be taken into account when you’re suddenly staring down the barrel of opening your own practice and not just being a part of someone else’s?

We’ve talked before about important general tips for opening your own aesthetic practice, but as with any business venture, there are a number of legal issues to keep in mind as you set out on your own to build the aesthetics practice of your dreams.

Here are 5 legal considerations you’ll want to address before opening your own aesthetics practice.

Insurance

This is not the place to make assumptions. Do your research. Talk to other practitioners to find out who they’re insured with. Get a number of quotes, as the price of coverage can vary greatly from one provider to another. 

You’ll also want to work very closely with your chosen provider to make sure you fully and accurately represent the totality of the services and procedures you will be offering. They’ll want training certificates. And don’t forget that you don’t just need malpractice insurance, you’re also going to need to make sure the clinic itself is insured.

Credentialing Health Care Providers

Medical spas, wellness centers, and aesthetics practices can often face a dilemma when it comes to vetting practitioners. On one hand, the organization must ensure that it’s hiring the most competent, qualified providers. Why? Because, if a patient is injured while under a practitioner’s care within the spa or center, the organization itself can be considered negligent for failing to exercise due diligence in making its hiring decisions. 

In fact, even if a credentialing protocol is designed to ensure that practitioners have satisfactory competency and qualifications, the organization may be considered negligent for not exercising due care in credentialing if a patient is injured while under the care of one of the practitioners. 

Long story short: Credentialing is complex as it varies by state and profession. Make sure your legal advisor is on top of the relevant statutes where you plan to practice.

Informed consent

The legal obligation of informed consent is designed to ensure the patient is provided with all information material to a treatment decision. 

In other words, any information that would make a difference in the patient’s deliberations as to whether or not to undergo a given therapeutic protocol. About half of the states in the US judge materiality (reasonably significant information about risks and benefits that might affect a patient’s decision to undergo a particular therapy) by the “reasonable patient’s” notion of what is significant, while the other half judge materiality by the “reasonable physician.”

Again, make sure you know which standards apply to you.

Anti-Kickback and Fee-Splitting Considerations

It’s not uncommon for commission-based pay to be used by businesses to motivate employees and contractors. 

While it’s true that, in the medical aesthetic industry, referrals from other medical professionals and other nonmedical providers, such as health centers, hair salons, and spas, can reap valuable benefits, in many cases, these types of referral and compensation models can violate fee-sharing or fee-splitting regulations. These violations can put your medical license in jeopardy.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), fee-splitting is defined as the “payment by or to a physician solely for the referral of a patient.” 

The AMA has explicitly stated that fee-splitting is unethical, and its reasoning is simple: A physician’s main purpose is to provide the proper care and treatment of the patient—not to perform unnecessary procedures or refer patients to other providers in order to gain a monetary benefit.

Make sure you consult with a qualified legal advisor before entering into any of these sorts of possibly unlawful arrangements.

Professional discipline

Professional discipline refers to the power of the relevant professional board to sanction a clinician, most significantly by revoking the clinician’s license. Typically, a physician’s license can be revoked by the state medical board for egregious behaviors like gross negligence. It’s also been the case, however, that medical board discipline can be a concern when delivering emerging therapies that may be therapeutically valid, despite not yet having received widespread approval by the medical community. 

Many of these discipline concerns have arisen in the context of physicians delivering alternative and complementary medical therapies, including such things as chelation therapy, ozone therapy, homeopathy, and even nutritional care. 

Although not all aesthetic medical therapies might be considered alternative and complementary medical therapies, these two categories of therapies are generally linked in their tendency to push the boundaries between conventional, ‘illness-based’ medical care and less conventional wellness, prevention, or holistic models of self-care.

Make sure you know the boundaries under which your professional board allows you to practice.

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