Increase in Lawsuits against Non-Doctors for Laser Surgery Injuries

Doctors aren’t the only ones who can be held liable when a patient is injured because of medical negligence. In fact, new research published online in October in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Dermatology indicates there’s been an increase in lawsuits against non-doctors who perform laser surgery.

The study found 75 out of the 175 identified cases between 1999 and 2012 involve another professional, such as a: 

  • nurse;
  • intern;
  • technician; or
  • medical assistant.

Between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of cases that involve non-doctors jumped from 36.3 percent to 77.8 percent. The most common procedure resulting in legal action was laser hair removal. 

Other procedures named in these lawsuits include: 

  • rejuvenation (improves appearance of skin, such as wrinkles);
  • scar removal; and
  • treatment of varicose veins. 

One of the concerning issues surrounding the practice of laser surgery is that not all states require special training or certification. Nor are the procedures always performed at a medical facility. The study found that most cases involving non-doctors “were performed outside of a traditional medical setting,” which might include medical/medi-spas.

Filing a Claim against a Non-Doctor 

Whether licensed or not, an individual performing laser surgery procedures can be liable for damages if the procedure causes injury. There are certain elements that claimants must establish when filing a claim against a doctor or non-doctor. First, the claim must establish that there was a relationship between the doctor or non-doctor and patient, such as the administration of treatment.

Second, the lawsuit must establish that the standard of care (for treatment or procedure) wasn’t reasonable. For instance, holding the laser over someone’s face for too long, resulting in burns, would violate a reasonable standard of care.

A third element is that the negligent actions caused injuries to the patient. Lastly, the claimant must establish damages. In this example it could include compensation for medical bills, scarring, and pain and suffering.

If you need help pursuing a claim against a doctor or non-doctor, contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates.

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