5 Reasons for a Practice Investigation

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chicago-based attorney Alex Thiersch says he and his colleagues have seen an uptick in the number of complaints to medical and nursing boards. As a consequence, he says, there has been an increase in practice investigations.

Thiersch, a partner at ByrdAdatto and director of the American Med Spa Association, presented “Top 5 reasons your practice could likely be investigated,” at the 2017 Vegas Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Dermatology meeting, in Las Vegas.

The top five are medical director contracts; the unauthorized practice of medicine; improper corporate structure or ownership; fee-splitting; and anti-kickbacks.

The increase in investigations in large part impacts surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists, who serve as medical directors to medical spas outside of their own practices, he says.

“There are many entrepreneurs looking to cash in on the aesthetic-medical market, and they often look to partner with doctors to build their brand,” according to Thiersch.

The strategy is perfectly legal, if done properly. But some business owners will run afoul of regulations—unwittingly, through ignorance of the law, or intentionally, in order to cut corners, according to Thiersch.

Regardless of whether the surgeon knows that the law is being violated, his or her license is on the line, given that the doctor is ultimately in charge of medical treatment. Physicians can avoid the problem by carefully selecting their business partners and having a qualified lawyer look at the deal, according to Thiersch.

The most specific violation and, by far, the most serious occurs when registered nurses (RNs) perform medical treatments on new patients without the doctor seeing the patient first, he says.

“In other words, if a new patient … makes an appointment, is seen by the RN, and then [is] treated by the RN without ever seeing the doctor, the RN has just engaged in the unauthorized practice of medicine,” Thiersch says. “More importantly, the surgeon has just engaged in ‘aiding and abetting’ the unauthorized practice of medicine."
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