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COA: Laser hair removal not 'health care'

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Laser hair removal isn't considered "health care" within the meaning of the state's Medical Malpractice Act, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

A unanimous ruling today affirmed a trial court decision in OB-GYN Associates of Northern Indiana P.C. v. Tammy Ransbottom, No. 71A03-0711-CV-503, which involved a St. Joseph County case and the denial of a motion to dismiss a negligence action.

In January 2006, Ransbottom had gone to a Mishawaka OB-GYN's office and underwent the cosmetic laser hair removal treatment. She went for cosmetic purposes and not medical reasons, and as a result of the treatment that day she alleged she was burned by the laser. Ransbottom later filed a negligence complaint, but the association filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the laser treatment constituted "health care." The trial court denied the motion and the case went up on appeal.

"The question before us is whether the laser hair removal treatment Ransbottom received at Ob-Gyn was 'health care' within the meaning of the Medical Malpractice Act," Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote. "In pressing their respective arguments, the parties have regrettably little in the way of precedent upon which to rely. There are virtually no Indiana cases on the general subject of what constitutes health care within the meaning of the Medical Malpractice Act."

Parties relied on four Indiana cases relating to the act and what constitutes health care, as well as one from the Wyoming Supreme Court dealing with hair removal. But the Hoosier appellate court noted that those cases offer little guidance in this case.

The association argued that the treatment was performed by a registered nurse who worked for a health-care provider, used equipment that required training and expertise, and could have resulted in injury if not administered properly.

But the court countered those arguments because the treatment was not recommended or supervised by a physician, a registered nurse degree or any medical training was not necessary to operate the machine, and that laser hair treatment can be legally administered in beauty salons by those employees. The court pointed to one of its 2001 decisions that held a doctor-patient relationship is a prerequisite to maintaining a malpractice action.

The court pointed out that hair-removal treatment is analogous to tattoo equipment and tanning beds because they are also used on human bodies and aren't considered "health care."
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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