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Why a risk assessment is critical for your practice

Article-Why a risk assessment is critical for your practice

medical aesthetics, business law, risk assessment, practice management

For a medical aesthetic practice to best serve its patients and maintain a viable business, it needs to understand the ways in which it may be compromising patient safety or otherwise violating the law. Therefore, if your practice has not undergone a thorough risk assessment recently, there is no time like the present.

“A risk assessment establishes the baseline of a practice from a compliance perspective and helps identify risk areas that need to be addressed,” said Michael S. Byrd, partner at ByrdAdatto, a Dallas, Texas-based law firm focused in business, healthcare and medical aesthetic law. “Over time, any medical spa will develop some level of compliance risk through the natural evolution of the business. A risk assessment confronts this problem head on by bringing these risks to light.”

A properly conducted risk assessment will cover both business and medical concerns, and will identify areas where the practice is compliant, areas where the practice needs to be mindful to remain in compliance, and areas where the practice is not compliant that need to be corrected.

“A risk assessment is essentially a blend of legal and clinical evaluation of compliance,” Mr. Byrd stated. “From a legal perspective, we’re making sure that the ownership and the policies and procedures are set up in a compliant manner. Does the practice have appropriate policies and procedures as it relates to treatment, delegation and supervision, OSHA, telemedicine, HIPAA, etc.? We often have a lawyer, a clinical consultant, and an IT consultant helping to evaluate the spectrum of business and legal compliance considerations.”

How to run a risk assessment

To begin the process of conducting a risk assessment, a practice should engage with a healthcare law firm that has a great deal of experience conducting such investigations. Additionally, stakeholders need to be as open as possible so evaluators can get a clear idea of what is really going on at the practice.

“We’ll identify the ownership documents that need to be sent, and then, if it is a full risk assessment, we will involve a clinical consultant who will look at it from a clinical perspective, and then we will work together to make sure that the policies and procedures navigate that particular state’s laws,” Mr. Byrd explained.

“Knowing who is doing the initial exams and who can be delegated to provide the treatment by procedure is a key aspect. There are certain procedures that are only appropriate for certain providers. That’s a lot of the back and forth we will have with the consultant,” he continued.

If this sounds like a major undertaking, well… it is. However, it is assuredly better to know the areas in which your practice falls short of compliance and what can be done to correct that, rather than remain ignorant and be surprised when an investigation uncovers violations.

“It can be overwhelming, but if it can be integrated as part of the culture of the business, our clients are very successful,” Mr. Byrd pointed out.

“A risk assessment is really just a starting point, but then you have a culture of following these procedures and evaluating as laws, technology, procedures and your personnel changes,” he added. “The clients that adopt compliance as part of the culture of their business have been really successful in minimizing risk.”

According to Mr. Byrd, after his firm conducts a risk assessment, it typically will check in with clients every three months to make sure that everything is on track. If a firm does not offer periodic check-ins, he recommends repeating the risk assessment process annually.

Author’s note: The American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) works with a national law firm that focuses on medical aesthetic legalities and, as a member, along with a number of other great benefits, you receive a discount off of your initial consultation. To learn more, log on to

About the Author:

Risk assessment, practice management, medical aestheticsAlex R. Thiersch, J.D.
Mr. Thiersch is a Chicago-based healthcare attorney who represents medical spas, plastic surgeons and aesthetic medical professionals. He is the founder and CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa), which was created for the express purpose of providing comprehensive, relevant and timely legal and business resources for medical spas and medical aesthetic physicians throughout the United States. Mr. Thiersch is also a partner at ByrdAdatto Law Firm.

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