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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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