On July 12, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill that would have imposed reasonable and overdue regulations to protect the health and safety of patients who visit medical spas, arguing that the bill would put an undue burden on those facilities and should have been recommended by a board of health care professionals.
But what the veto message misses are the facts that the regulations were indeed recommended by health care professionals, and the legislation was well vetted at public meetings, a public hearing and debate in House and Senate before passage.
Over the past year, the Connecticut Medical Society along with several specialty groups uncovered operations of medical spas across the state that clearly violate existing laws, putting patients at risk. At a public hearing on proposed legislation in February, we provided testimony about lack of physician supervision in these facilities, complications of treatments that resulted in patients being seen in emergency rooms and other physician’s offices. There was no testimony given in opposition to the bill.
Lawmakers on the Public Health Committee listened to our concerns, and raised a bill that was approved by the legislature in June.
The bill would require that physicians in medical spas perform an assessment on each patient before treatment. In addition, the board certification of that physician was to be made apparent to all patients in the office and on all advertisements.
It seemed a small measure to require such minimal safety measures in facilities that claim to be medical facilities. The current law requires it, and yet it is ignored.
Whether or not the governor consulted the Department of Public Health before issuing his veto is not clear. But we know he never spoke with the numerous medical societies involved.
In his message, Malloy argued in part that it would hurt small businesses. Is the viability of a small business more important than patient health and safety?
And does the governor not understand that every medical practice is a small business? We have to abide by many regulations to keep patients safe, such as protocols to ensure sterility of equipment, and that medications are readily available to treat an allergic reaction. Shouldn’t a spa that is inserting the term “medical” into its name, and is providing invasive treatments like liposuction, meet the same regulations?
This bill would have protected patient safety. My small business, and every other medical office in Connecticut fully embrace and understand the burden of meeting the state’s public health codes and providing the highest standard of care for our patients. Medical spas should do the same.
With the veto of this bill, we can only ask the public to do their own homework and ask the right questions before having a procedure performed.
Dr. Patrick Felice is president of the Connecticut Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons