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Legal Claims Against Non-Physician Laser Operators Up

FRIDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Medical professional liability claims related to cutaneous laser surgery by non-physician operators (NPOs) are increasing, according to a study published online Oct. 16 in JAMA Dermatology.

H. Ray Jalian, M.D., from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues used an online national database of public legal documents to identify the incidence of medical professional liability claims stemming from cutaneous laser surgery performed by NPOs.

The researchers found that there were 175 cases related to injury secondary to cutaneous laser surgery identified from January 1999 to December 2012. Roughly 43 percent (75 cases) involved an NPO. The percentage of cases with NPOs increased from 36.3 percent in 2008 to 77.8 percent in 2011. The most commonly performed procedure in these cases was laser hair removal. While approximately one-third of laser hair removal procedures are performed by NPOs, 75.5 percent of hair removal lawsuits from 2004 to 2012 involved NPOs. This number increased to 85.7 percent of lawsuits from 2008 to 2012. Nearly two-thirds of the cases by NPOs were performed outside of a traditional medical setting.

"Physicians and other laser operators should be aware of their state laws, especially in regard to physician supervision of NPOs," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the aesthetic laser industry.

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