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Med Spas and the Corporate Practice of Medicine

The corporate practice of medicine has implications for med spas in many of the same ways as it does for other healthcare practices. While med spas offer a combination of traditional spa treatments, they also frequently perform what are considered medical procedures, traditionally focusing on cosmetic or aesthetic services like Botox injections, dermal fillers, and laser treatments. As a result, the regulations governing the corporate practice of medicine apply to med spas and are a significant source of confusion and concern for owners, operators, employees and independent contractors.


A Texas med spa could potentially violate the corporate practice of medicine if it engages in activities that are inconsistent with the state's laws and regulations controlling the administering of medicine. Simply put, violations can occur when the med spa's ownership, control, or operations cross legal boundaries and trespass upon the autonomous medical judgment of licensed healthcare professionals. This article aims to provide an overview of the corporate practice of medicine and its implications as to med spas, particularly realted to occurrences of infringements


What Is the Corporate Practice of Medicine?


The Corporate Practice of Medicine (CPOM) refers to case law and statutes that restrict or regulate the ability of corporations or non-physician entities to employ or control licensed medical professionals. These laws are in place to uphold the ethical principles of medical practice and to prevent undue influence or interference in medical decision-making for financial gain.


In Texas, the Texas Medical Practice Act (TMPA) governs the corporate practice of medicine and outlines certain prohibitions and restrictions in order maintain the independence and professional judgment of physicians. Specifically, the Act prohibits corporations and non-physician entities from practicing medicine, employing physicians, or controlling their professional judgment. The intent behind these regulations is to ensure that medical decisions are made in the best interest of patients and helps maintain the quality of medical care and the integrity of the physician-patient relationship.


How Do Med Spas Violate the Corporate Practice of Medicine?


Here are some scenarios where a med spa can get into trouble when it comes to the corporate practice of medicine in Texas:


Non-Physician Ownership or Control: If a med spa is owned or controlled by individuals or entities that are not licensed physicians, and these non-physicians are involved in making medical decisions or influencing patient care, it could abuse the corporate practice of medicine. A non-physician can own a med spa, but they cannot encroach on a doctor’s independent medical judgment.


Unlicensed Practice: Allowing unlicensed individuals to perform medical procedures or provide medical treatments that require a medical license can constitute a violation if proper standing orders, delegation agreements, and protocols are not in place. This includes procedures such as injectables (e.g., Botox, dermal fillers), laser treatments, and other medical interventions.


Excessive Corporate Influence: If the med spa's ownership or financial arrangements with physicians compromise their medical judgment, such as requiring physicians to perform certain treatments or procedures based on financial incentives, it could violate the corporate practice of medicine.


Undue Interference in Medical Decisions: Med spa management or non-medical staff exerting undue influence or control over the medical decisions of licensed healthcare professionals could lead to a violation. This interference could affect treatment plans, diagnoses, or other aspects of patient care.


Misleading Marketing or Advertising: If a med spa engages in false or misleading advertising that exaggerates the medical benefits of certain treatments or misrepresents the qualifications of its staff, it could infringe on the corporate practice of medicine by potentially deceiving patients.


Unauthorized Physician Supervision: In cases where non-physician owners or operators attempt to supervise or direct medical procedures without proper qualifications, this could lead to a violation.


The Takeaway


It is critical for med spas to understand how the corporate practice of medicine in Texas applies to them. A lot of misleading information exists that can cause med spas to set up procedures and operate in non-compliance of the TMPA. And serious violations can result, including complaints to various governmental agencies with oversight of healthcare, fines, injunctions, business shut-downs, or even criminal charges. As such, med spa owners and operators should research and familiarize themselves with these rules and regulations and then seek out professional consultants and counsel with expertise in this area.

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