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Medical Board Examines Regulating Laser Hair Removal

Posted March 16, 2005

— The North Carolina Medical Board talked Wednesday about whether to regulate laser hair removal and other treatments.

The issue has intensified since N.C. State student Shiri Berg died of a lidocaine overdose after she put the numbing cream on her body to prepare for laser hair removal.

The medical board already had the issue on its agenda, but Berg's death has made it more urgent.

Currently the board policy adopted in 1999 recommends, but does not require, a doctor to be involved. That could be changing.

"The fundamental question is whether what's going on is the practice of medicine," said Thom Mansfield, medical board attorney. "If it is the practice of medicine than it must be done by a physician -- a licensee of this board."

Some doctors believe it is a medical procedure and a doctor should be on-site.

"There has to be a physician involved," said Dr. William Ketcham, a dermatologist. "There's no doubt in my mind about that. The definition of physician involvement is where the rubber meets the road."

The board is also investigating the doctors who were involved with the clinic where Berg was treated. The Berg family attorney said the family is still considering litigation.


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