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Clients or Patients - To Whom Do Texas Med Spas Provide Services?

The answer is both. And this distinction is important because often med spas wrongly consider those who patronize their establishments to be only clients. When in fact, many of them are patients under applicable laws. As such, med spas must ensure compliance with state and federal regulations governing patient treatment, records, privacy, and notices, particularly when a licensed professional employee, such as a nurse or physician assistant, leaves their position.

Patient Defined

In Texas, "patient" is commonly used in a medical context to describe individuals who receive medical services or care from licensed healthcare professionals. A patient is typically defined as someone who seeks or receives medical diagnosis, treatment, or other healthcare services. The term is used to emphasize the professional relationship between a healthcare provider and an individual seeking medical care. It implies a duty of care and a legal responsibility on the part of the provider to deliver appropriate medical treatment, maintain confidentiality, and adhere to medical and ethical standards.

It is important to note that the definition of patient may vary legally depending on the specific context, but the general concept remains consistent with the above description. The Texas Medical Board, Texas Nursing Board, Health and Human Services Commission, and Department of State Health Services all have regulations that define and govern the relationship between healthcare providers and patients. Therefore, it is important to refer to the relevant state agencies and their specific rules and regulations to get precise information on the definition of a patient in various healthcare contexts in Texas.

Med Spas Have Patients and Clients

Whether clients at a med spa are considered patients depends on the specific services being offered and the qualifications of the individuals providing those services. In Texas and many other states, med spas typically offer a range of cosmetic and wellness therapies such as Botox injections, laser hair removal, facials, and various beauty treatments.

If the services provided at the med spa are medical procedures that require a licensed healthcare provider to either administer or oversee them, then the individuals receiving these services are considered patients. Keep in mind, though, that an unlicensed person may provide non-surgical cosmetic procedures with proper physician or mid-level oversight. In such cases, the med spa may be required to follow medical and healthcare regulations, including maintaining patient records and ensuring proper informed consent.

However, if the services offered are purely wellness in nature, like basic facials, that do not involve medical procedures, the individuals receiving these services may not be considered patients in the traditional sense. Instead, they are often referred to as clients or customers. But a procedure that is not considered the practice of medicine may well be regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) which requires conformity with that agency’s regulations as to those procedures.

The Takeaway

The individuals who obtain services at a med spa are seldom clients. Treating "patients," then, requires med spas to follow federal and state laws regarding the care of patients. For instance, the med spa and the former employee who is a licensed healthcare professional both have a duty to inform the patient to where the employee has transitioned. By way of another example, patients have the right to request copies of their medical records, and healthcare providers, including med spas, are required to provide these records upon request.

It is therefore essential for med spas to have established policies and procedures in place for discerning who is a client and who is a patient, for handling patients and their data, and for addressing the requirements and obligations that the spa and any former employee may have to a patient according to the various applicable laws. But, just because a person receives non-medical services does not mean the provider is not regulated. So med spas should be equally certain to check the TDLR regulations to see if a non-medical procedure nevertheless has compliance requirements.

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