American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Consumers

Rhode Island: Stop Laser Use by Unqualified Personnel

In a legislative tussle that spilled over from last session, companion bills (Senate Bill 292 and House Bill 5251) that would allow unqualified individuals to perform nonablative laser or energy-based treatments were introduced again this year. ASPS strongly believes that these devices should only be operated by physicians or other licensed medical professionals under direct physician supervision, including physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), advance practice registered nurses (APRNs), and registered nurses (RNs). ASPS engaged early and often on the measure, sending letters opposing the measures to the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee; the House Health and Human Services Committee; and Senator Hanna Gallo, the lead Senate sponsor.

In a change of pace from last year, though, both measures were amended on June 11 to remove the definition of nonablative laser treatments and instead focus on permitting electrologists to perform laser hair removal without the oversight of a licensed physician. While that change was seen as a positive improvement to the bill, it still fell in direct conflict with ASPS's position on the issue. Therefore, ASPS and the New England Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons sent additional letters of opposition to the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives urging legislators to vote the bills down. Unfortunately, those fell on deaf ears and each measure made its way to Governor Gina Raimondo's desk. In a final effort to defeat S.292/H.5251, ASPS sent a letter requesting the Governor to veto the measure on July 9. The bills await executive action.