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Spa doctor charged after lidocaine death

Article-Spa doctor charged after lidocaine death

Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Medical Board has charged the medical director of a now-closed spa with improperly prescribing a powerful numbing gel linked to the January death of a college student.

The medical board brought three charges against Ira David Uretzky, M.D., 38, medical director of Premier Body Laser and Skin Clinic in North Raleigh. The regulatory body alleges that he failed to take a medical history or perform a physical examination of spa clients before dispensing a prescription-strength lidocaine gel, and that he failed to give clients individual prescriptions for the gel, as required by law; that he failed to properly register with the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy for a special permit to dispense pharmaceuticals; and that he failed to ensure that patients were properly evaluated, treated and prescribed medication, and that the spa's staff was appropriately trained, qualified and supervised.

North Carolina State University student Shiri Berg, 22, slipped into a coma and died after applying a 10 percent lidocaine gel to her legs and wrapping them in plastic prior to a laser hair removal appointment . The board alleges that tubes of the gel were routinely sold at the clinic.

While the medical board seemed to act with unusual swiftness, Dale Breaden, director of public affairs, tells Cosmetic Surgery Times that the panel had been assessing its policy regarding laser hair removal since the fall of 2004, "and so it was possible to move forward ... probably with some degree of alacrity."

The board's notice does not mention Ms. Berg's death, as the panel deals only with the enforcement of medical practice statutes and the administration of licensing, he says.

The board tentatively set a hearing for June 15. Dr. Uretzky's medical license could be limited, suspended or revoked if he is found guilty, but such allegations often are resolved through a consent order before they reach a hearing, Mr. Breaden says.

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