Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Use of Titles and Certifications in Aesthetic Medicine

There is an increasing tendency for individuals in aesthetic medicine to utilize titles, designations or certifications in their marketing and daily practice. There has been a corresponding increase in complaints to medical boards, boards of cosmetology and FTC regarding this issue so it is a good time to review the issues.

Many providers receive a license from a state governing board. This governing board provides “scope of license” parameters and these should always be strictly followed. You should never advertise, in any manner, proficiency beyond the scope of license granted top you. You should never indicate or advertise additional proficiency beyond the license that the state granted you. The reason is simple: it is deceitful to the public and advertising proficiency in something beyond the scope of license can result in loss of license and momentary fine. In some situations, it can also be criminally actionable against you.

There are many examples that I notice on a daily basis: a physician advertising that he or she is “board certified” and neglecting to mention in what specialization board. For example, an aesthetic medical provider that is providing laser and dermal fillers should not indicate that they are “board certified” without also mentioning by which board. The reason is that this practice may be deceiving the public and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state board of medicine will take action against such physicians. It is deceitful (arguably) because the physician may be board certified in something that has nothing to do with dermal fillers or laser (which are under the specialty of dermatology).

Another example relevant to physicians is the use of ancillary organizations which are not part of the American Board¬¬¬¬ of Medical Specialties. Membership in the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery for example does not make you board certified in cosmetic surgery and many advertisements convey this message. Not only will state medical boards and the FTC have a problem with this, but an astute lawyer in a professional negligence action will as well.

In a similar manner, aestheticians, nurses, technicians, etc. should not advertise credentials beyond the scope of their license or training. There is no such thing as a “medical esthetician” or “para medical esthetician” for example. True, you may have received additional training but this does not enable you to perform additional services beyond the scope of your license and it does not mean that you can refer to yourself as such. The issue again is deception of the public. There is seldom a designation for “Certified Laser Technician” either and in many instances, such designation refers to individuals that REPAIR lasers not operate them. Again, the additional training is commendable, but it does not enable a provider to advertise or describe themselves in any manner that expands or alters the scope of their license or the use of medical devices as a designee of a physician.

Compliance in these areas is on the rise. Complaints by peers and clients and patients are on the rise as is professional negligence claim so be prudent when marketing your skills and training!!

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