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Calls for further training and longer breaks following laser incident in NZ

Calls for further training and longer breaks following laser incident in NZ

On Monday, following an incident at a well-known laser clinic last year, Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Dr Vanessa Caldwell found the laser therapist in breach of the patients’ rights code by using incorrect settings and responding to her burns “inappropriately”.

In January 2021, a woman’s face was burned after incorrect laser settings were used during hair removal treatment, causing her months of anxiety and trauma.

The incident is not isolated, and underscores the need to regulate laser hair removal and cosmetic medicine.

In the United Kingdom, failure for operators of laser or intense light pulse systems to be registered with health authorities is a criminal offence. Meanwhile, in the United States, the machines are subject to state controls that ensure they are used by or under the supervision of specific licensed practitioners. In New Zealand, not only are there a lack of regulations, salon clients are not well informed about it.

During the session in question, the laser therapist used incorrect settings, subsequently burning the client’s face. The clinic did not communicate “openly or honestly” with her about how or why this happened, according to Caldwell. The clinic, Laser Clinics New Zealand Takapuna Pty Ltd, was also found in breach for “misleading” the client, and “avoiding accountability”.

Caldwell’s report said the client booked lip and chin hair laser removal but then requested a full-face treatment, which takes longer. The therapist was “in a rush between clients” and forgot to check whether the machine had been switched to the correct settings. The woman drove home holding an ice glove to her burned face following the laser treatment, after which she complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner. She was unable to work the next day and sought medical advice on the fourth day.

In the hair and beauty industry, careless mistakes have the capacity to destroy a business’ reputation and cause serious harm to clients. Alongside improved education, this incident serves as a critical reminder to ensure staff are well-rested and have the focus to carry out treatments safely. Amid the busiest time of year for beauty salons and clinics, it’s never been more pertinent to put these policies in place.

Working around this time is equal parts hectic and amazing. The energy of everyone in the salon is always incredible as everyone’s excited for the break ahead. We always provide snacks throughout the busy period so that the team stay fuelled and often organise pizzas/easy lunch options for on-the-go.

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