24 December 2023
Texas Medical Board takes action following the death of a patient at a med spa, highlighting the importance of physician responsibility in the growing industry
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has recently imposed a severe sanction on Dr. Michael Gallagher, the medical director of Luxe Med Spa in Wortham, following the tragic death of a patient. This incident has brought attention to the rapidly expanding med spa industry in Texas and the need for increased oversight. In an exclusive interview, TMB President Dr. Sherif Zaafran discussed the reasons behind the temporary suspension and emphasized the importance of physician responsibility in ensuring patient safety.
Temporary Suspension: A Rare and Serious Sanction
The temporary suspension of Dr. Gallagher’s license by the Texas Medical Board is a severe measure that is rarely taken. In 2020, out of the 8,927 complaints received by the board, only 30 resulted in temporary suspensions. This highlights the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for investigation and action.
Red Flags and Patient Safety
Dr. Zaafran emphasized the importance of patients being vigilant and recognizing red flags when seeking treatment at med spas. He stated that if a facility is merely “checking boxes” without questioning the appropriateness of certain procedures, it should raise concerns. Patients should be cautious if they encounter such practices and should seek out facilities that prioritize patient safety and follow proper protocols.
The Emerging Medical Aesthetic Business Model
The death of Jenifer Cleveland and the subsequent temporary suspension of Dr. Gallagher have shed light on the proliferation of med spas and the emerging medical aesthetic business model. Dr. Zaafran addressed this issue in the October 2023 TMB bulletin, expressing concerns about the various forms of medical service business models that have emerged. These models often offer services such as Botox injections and intravenous (IV) therapies, which are invasive medical procedures requiring proper oversight.
Physician Responsibility and Patient Care
In his bulletin, Dr. Zaafran emphasized that physicians are ultimately responsible for the quality of care and treatment provided to their patients, even when delegating tasks to other medical professionals. As the medical director of Luxe Med Spa, Dr. Gallagher had specific responsibilities that he failed to fulfill, leading to the temporary suspension of his license. The TMB’s decision was based on the failure to establish a proper physician-patient relationship and to adhere to prescribing and treatment protocols.
The Growing Med Spa Industry
The American Med Spa Association reports that the medical aesthetics industry is currently valued at $15 billion nationwide and is projected to reach $25 billion by 2025. With such rapid growth, it is crucial to ensure that these procedures, despite their normalization, are treated as medical interventions that require appropriate oversight and regulation.
Ensuring Patient Safety and Oversight
Dr. Zaafran emphasized the need for patients to be cautious and to seek out facilities where appropriate oversight, prescribing authority, and treatment protocols are in place. The Texas Medical Board provides resources on its website for patients to verify a doctor’s history, file complaints, and check if the person administering treatment has the necessary qualifications and authority.
The severe sanction imposed on Dr. Gallagher and the subsequent statements from TMB President Dr. Zaafran highlight the importance of physician responsibility in the med spa industry. As the industry continues to expand, it is crucial for patients to be aware of red flags and to prioritize their safety. By holding physicians accountable and ensuring proper oversight, the Texas Medical Board aims to protect patients and maintain the integrity of medical care in the state.