Laser tattoo removal providers are they medically qualified?
I recently obtained significant amounts of compensation for two ladies both injured during laser treatment.
The first lady had gone along to a ‘laser clinic’ to have a small tattoo removed from her ankle. She had an initial consultation over the telephone. She was told that it might take more than one session to remove the tattoo fully. On the day of her treatment she had one session and was told that that was enough.
A few days later the area was red and swollen and infected. She ended up at the burns unit of her local hospital who told her that she needed a skin graft taken from her thigh to repair the burn injury on her ankle. She had in fact suffered a third degree burn.
The second lady also attended a private laser clinic. Her treatment was by “Intense Pulse Light” (another form of laser treatment), but this was for pigmentation discoloration on her arms. She had previously had similar treatment carried out to her face and had been more than happy with the results.
The person carrying out her treatment, it seems, went over the same areas of skin several times. My client was left with stripey, bright red and painful burns on both her forearms. She sought follow up treatment herself from a consultant dermatologist but has been left with permanent scars. She can now only wear long sleeve tops and is embarrassed to show her arms to anyone.
During her case the claims handler for the clinic’s insurers told me that he had been asked to carry out some research for the employers looking at these kinds of cases.
He pointed out to me that the people carrying out the procedures were not necessarily doctors (as someone looking for treatment might expect) but that they could be people who have no more qualification than having attended a one day training course. During the cases I have worked on I have seen at least one person describe themselves as a ‘laser consultant’. I looked up some of these courses on the internet. There are pages and pages of companies offering training and business support to set up in the tattoo removal business. They advertise great income rewards and help with marketing and some even offer a fully set up business package. There is a great deal of information about potential future income but as far as I can see no information about the need for any relevant medical (or indeed other) qualification.
The insurance claims handler’s comment worries me. I have previously written about organisations that do not have to have insurance to protect those they injure. Many of these clinics are no exception. Both of my clients were relieved to hear that the clinics involved had taken out insurance, but the claims handler I spoke to mentioned an increase in claims.
I wonder whether insurers will start to look more carefully at the providers they are prepared to insure. If that is the case, this might lead to only the medically qualified being able to obtain insurance and the people who perform such procedures as a result of these internet offers to earn high incomes will be doing so without any insurance in place to compensate their customers if things go wrong.