No one wants to be the target of the organized plaintiff’s bar. Yet sometimes a few bad bananas spoil everything for the whole bunch. That’s what seems to be happening in the medi-spa business.
Medi-spas are the fastest growing segment of the spa business. According to the International SPA Association medi-spas have grown four-fold since 2004.
Medi-spas are the destination of choice for those seeking laser hair removal treatments, and other cosmetic procedures. Such procedures require a doctor’s supervision in most states. However a growing number of lawsuits suggest that such supervision is sometimes lax or non-existent, causing states such as Florida, New York and Illinois to weigh the need for tighter regulation.
Besides lax regulation, another component contributing to an up-tick in medi-spa litigation are poorly managed expectations – medi-spa procedure risks are not fully disclosed or explained to the patients. If certain information is lacking, it becomes impossible for a patient to give informed consent to the procedure. Without informed consent the liability shifts back to the spa. It’s a vicious circle and that’s what seems to be happening at some, not necessarily all, medi-spas.
I understand why a business is reluctant to lay all of the cards on the table. It might scare away some customers. It reminds me of a case involving a hotel and some padded Sumo wrestler suits that were made available to the guests so they could play Sumo. Seems the padding didn’t provide as much protection as you might expect so getting slammed down in Sumo fashion by your opponent could lead to injury. A few folks did get hurt, but the hotel brushed the incidents under the rug because they didn’t want to scare anyone. The next time someone got injured playing Sumo they were paralyzed from the neck down. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happened next.
While the fear of potentially scaring customers explains the lack of disclosure, it does not excuse it. Properly disclosing risk helps manage expectations and protects the business from a customer’s or patient’s unrealistic expectations. It sounds obvious, but the court dockets are showing that disclosure is easier in theory than practice.
No procedure is without risk. Therefore it’s only fair that someone know what that risk is before agreeing to assume it. After all, how else can you give truly informed consent if you don’t know the potential consequences of what you’re really agreeing to?
Striving for the high road and being transparent with your patients, clients and customers provides an important reality check for to compare with the final results of the treatment leading to fewer law suits and less scrutiny from regulators. It’s a lesson that transcends the medi-spa industry and is applicable to all.