How to avoid a potential claim

Non-invasive cosmetic procedures are a growing part of the UK’s cosmetic industry. An increasing number of claims for compensation are being made against clinics and medical practitioners who perform non-invasive procedures. All non-invasive treatments which are negligently administered may result in a claim. This includes botulinum toxin, fillers, cosmetic peels/derma roller, and laser/IPL.

Fortunately, claims are the exception for the careful practitioner who keeps good treatment notes, follows product use guidance and has robust assessment and consent procedures in place.

Our top tips to minimise the risk of legal action

1. Keep detailed patient notes

Maintain good, thorough notes of all assessments and appointments with your clients.

2. Keep hold of your patient notes

If you are a practitioner trading mobile from a clinic and the clinic holds the records, it would be useful for the practitioner to also hold notes in the event of any disputes with clinics in the future. It is a condition that all records are kept for a minimum of 10 years in a secure place and backed up. Any patient has up to 6 years from the date of treatment to pursue a claim.

3. Assess your clients carefully

Assess your clients carefully before accepting them. Do not treat clients that you think might have unrealistic expectations about treatment outcomes.

4. Obtain a full medical history from the patient

Obtain a full medical history from your patient including whether they have undergone non-invasive procedures in the past and whether there have been any adverse effects from the products. Be aware that patients can have unforeseen reactions to products that cannot always be predicted.

5. Patient consent

The days of ‘The doctor knows best’ are over. The basic principle of the Bolam test, applied in court cases before 2015, has become redundant. It has now become paramount that the practitioner informs the patient candidly about all the risks involved in the procedure, based upon the materiality of risk. A risk is ‘material’ if it is likely that the patient would ‘attach significance’ to it.

Ensure that the client has consented to the procedure. Make sure you explain the risks of the treatment clearly to them. If there are alternative, more suitable treatments tell them about the treatment. Make sure that they sign and date the consent form to indicate they understand the information that has been provided to them.

6. Follow product guidelines

Ensure that the procedure is carried out within the product guidelines. If a treatment has been undertaken outside the guidelines, it is very difficult to maintain that the treatment was appropriate.

7. Record settings

Make sure you record the settings that are used on the equipment and perform all of the necessary patch tests and skin assessments prior to the treatment being administered.

8. Encourage patient to follow guidance

Be aware that patients do not always follow guidance such as avoiding the sun or applying adequate sun block. If they have not done so, it is your responsibility to refrain from treating the patient on that occasion.

9. Patient literature

Always provide your patient with any leaflets or brochures with details of the product and the conditions which the product can treat, not only is this informative to patients but could tempt the patient into coming back for further treatments, i.e. botulinum toxin can also be used for hyperhidrosis or dermal fillers for different areas of the body (not just facial rejuvenation).

10. Take before and after photos

Take clear before and after photographs of the treated areas and make sure these are stored safely. The photos will enable the patient to see the effect of the final outcome and refer back to photographs prior to the treatment which was performed.

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