Building a Medical Laser Safety Program for your Medical Spa

Alabama Medical Spa Laser Safety Program Fundamentals Building a Medical Laser Safety Program for your Medical Spa

By: Leslie J. Pollard, BSMT, LEOT, CMLSO (Reg. # 6930)

The operation of a professionally run medical spa can be a profitable avenue for a physician to offer cosmetic services to a grateful clientele. Decisions dealing with location, services to offer, equipment to purchase, pricing, sales, and marketing are a few of the important processes that will be considered on the road to success.

When lasers are used in the medical spa facility, a task that is most important and often ignored is the development and maintenance of a federally and state compliant laser safety program. Medical spas are held to the same standards as hospitals and surgery centers in the area of the use of medical laser safety Class 3b and Class 4 (most all cosmetic lasers). Medical spas are required to research and develop internal programs that establish training and safety protocols while providing a means to analyze, control, measure, document, and make adjustments to the program as necessary.

The foundation of all laser safety protocols and practices should be based on the American National Standards Institute Z136.1 and Z136.3 laser safety guidelines. Many states have now established state laser safety laws as well as rulings and guidelines that deal with the required training of staff and the delegation of treatment authority.

The timing of the laser safety development process usually occurs either during the medical spa development process or when a situation arises that forces the facility to act quickly due to pressure from a state or federal authority. A variety of situations can trigger an external audit by authorities of a facility requiring the inspection of many aspects of the organization and operation, including the use and safe operation of these lasers. Some of the situations that can trigger an external safety audit are:

  • Complaint of employees (current and former) of any safety issue
  • Laser safety incident reported from any source
  • Incidental inspections of neighboring facilities
  • Reported patient complaint of any nature
  • Laser safety incident reported

Some states are known to be more proactive in the laser safety compliance inspection process than others.

If the laser safety program is found to be in compliance through the presentation of documentation that reflects the dynamic laser safety program process, the audit may end or result in minor recommendations and a follow up protocol or progress reports. However, if the audit results in the exposure of a non compliant program, the facility will most likely be required to undertake immediate action to begin the process, establish a plan to be presented to the audit board, show sufficient progress, and possibly face sanctions and fines.

The laser safety program development process will include:

  • Ready access of appropriate reference material (state and federal rules and guidelines, device operational manuals)
  • Staff Laser Safety Training Documentation (annual process)
  • Appointment and training of the facility Medical Laser Safety Officer
  • Equipment registration (if required by state)
  • Development and implementation of laser operator/ clinician requirements of licensure and training (based on best practices or state requirements)
  • Development and implementation of laser safety policies
  • Development and implementation of laser operational or standing order protocols
  • Development and implementation of delegation of authority (state medical board directed)
  • Development, implementation and documentation of laser maintenance program
  • Development, implementation and documentation of internal laser safety audit process
  • Development, implementation and documentation of quality assurance of laser safety program

Acting proactively before an external audit occurs will help ensure the safety of patients and staff as well as keep the program in compliance with federal and state authorities. Accessing professional laser safety program development services that can provide quick and efficient development tools, and provide effective strategies to the facility laser safety program development can help ensure confidence in both patients and staff as well as help ensure a compliant and smooth running laser program with the minimum use of time, personnel, and monetary resources.

About the Author:

Leslie J. Pollard BSMT LEOT CMLSO

Leslie Pollard is a professional medical/ surgical laser education specialist. As BLS Certified Laser Safety Officer, (CMLSO), Leslie holds a B.S in Medical Technology, and Associates in Laser Electro Optics Technology. She has over 18 year experience in the surgical operating room, over 20 years in medical/ surgical laser education, with concentrations in minimally invasive surgical technologies and surgical approaches. She currently owns and operates Southwest Innovative Solutions, Inc. a successful private consulting group dedicated to providing effective and affordable modular on line and on site educational programs to perioperative staff and physicians in surgical facilities, physician offices, and professionally owned medical spas. She is a member of the Laser Institute of America (currently assisting in the development of Best Practices for Medical Laser Safety Officers), American Society for Lasers and Medicine, and an invited speaker and content development advisor for the 2011 International Laser Safety Conference.

Contact SIS, Inc. or Leslie at or call 214.850.3302