Local News

Proposed Laser Hair Removal Guidelines To Hold Doctors More Accountable

Posted July 20, 2005

— A committee of the North Carolina Medical Board approved tougher guidelines Wednesday for the laser hair removal industry -- seven months after a North Carolina State University student died preparing for the procedure.

In proposing changes to the industry, one committee member said he hoped this would prevent doctors from just signing up to oversee clinics and then just "riding off into the sunset."

Under the new proposal, medical directors at clinics will have to give clients physicals before their first hair removal procedure. The doctor in charge must also give the client instructions when dispensing a prescription. And while physicians would not be required to stay on site, they must provide better oversight.

The family of Shiri Berg -- the 22-year-old student who died in January from an overdose of lidocaine prior to her laser treatment -- said many of these practices were not observed in Berg's case. It says the committee's changes are a step in the right direction.

"They are honoring her and respecting her death and protect other young children," said Berg's father, Ron Tzur.

Members of the industry say the new guidelines are too strict because in most cases a prescription is not even needed.

"Patients don't need an examination when they come in for electrolyses," said certified laser specialist Melissa Smith. "Why would they need an examination for hair removal?"

The full medical board is expected to vote on the final draft of the new guidelines by week's end.

Berg's family has yet to decide whether it will pursue legal action in her death.

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