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California law targets illegal medspas

Article-California law targets illegal medspas

Sacramento, Calif. — California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill designed to curtail the unlicensed practice of medicine, particularly medical spas and similar aesthetic procedure clinics.

The new law significantly increases fines and jail time for anyone found guilty of illegally operating or helping to illegally operate a medical business, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. Medical spas that provide nonsurgical cosmetic procedures such as laser skin resurfacing, cellulite treatments and dermal fillers in surgery centers and doctors’ offices are the law’s primary targets.

Under existing state law, a medical doctor must own at least 51 percent of the business and the medspa personnel who treat patients must be supervised by a medical doctor. Violations are counted as a misdemeanor that carries a fine of between $200 and $1,200, a 60- to 80-day jail sentence or both.

The new law raises the fine to a maximum of $50,000 or double the amount of fraud, whichever is greater, and calls for a maximum sentence of two to five years in state prison. The penalties can apply not just to the licensee, as was the case under the old law, but also to the business or corporate entity.

“Too often, our members are treating horrific complications such as severe burns, missed skin cancer diagnosis and permanent scarring, suffered by patients at the hands of inappropriately trained, inadequately supervised individuals in illegal medical-spa settings,” the Journal quotes Susan Weinkle, M.D., president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, as saying. “Providing the state of California with adequate enforcement tools is critical to preventing future unnecessary patient harm and consumer fraud.”

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