What Are Good Faith Exams and Why Are They Needed

Good Faith Examinations (“GFEs”) are comprehensive evaluations conducted by specific healthcare providers to ensure that any proposed aesthetic treatments are in the best interest of the patient. In most states, GFEs have to be done by MDs, NPs, or PAs, and cannot be done by RNs, aestheticians, medical assistants, etc. These evaluations are not mere formalities but are essential legal processes that prioritize patient safety and ethical practice. The core idea behind a GFE in a medical aesthetic setting is to establish a transparent, informed, and consensual pathway for aesthetic treatments, ensuring that every procedure recommended is medically justified and tailored to the patient’s specific needs and circumstances.

What Procedures Require a Good Faith Exam Before They Are Performed

The requirement for a GFE extends to all medical procedures or treatments involving the use of medical devices or drugs, including prescription numbing cream. However, the classification of what constitutes a medical procedure can vary depending on state regulations. Virtually all aesthetic procedures mandate a GFE, albeit nuances exist across states. For instance, while laser hair removal might not qualify as a medical procedure in New York, it could be categorized as such in New Jersey. Similarly, the classification of intravenous (IV) hydration as a medical procedure varies from state to state.

What are the components of a Good Faith Exam

A thorough GFE encompasses several critical elements, each designed to provide a holistic understanding of the patient’s health status and aesthetic goals:

  • Medical History Review: This involves a detailed look into the patient’s past and current health conditions, medications, allergies, and any previous surgeries or treatments. It helps in identifying any potential risks or contraindications for proposed treatments.
  • Treatment Rationale: The healthcare provider must explain the reasoning behind recommending a specific treatment, discussing its benefits, potential risks, and alternatives.
  • Informed Consent: An essential part of the GFE, where patients are informed about all aspects of the treatment, including aftercare and recovery, ensuring they understand and agree to proceed.
  • Documentation: Accurate and comprehensive record-keeping of the GFE findings, treatment plan, and patient consent is crucial for ethical and legal accountability.

How Boards Look for GFEs in Investigations

Medical, nursing, and cosmetology boards prioritize patient safety and ethical practice. In many states, complaints can be filed anonymously, by anyone, against any licensed provider. This means for example a competitor can report your practice to multiple boards if you do not have anyone performing GFEs for your practice or if the GFEs are deficient. The complaint does not have to be true in order for the board to investigate it. The boards have a duty to investigate the complaints they receive.

During investigations into complaints or adverse events, the boards closely examine the presence, quality, and thoroughness of GFEs. They look for:

  • Existence of Standard Operating Procedures: Every practice should have a set of protocols that were drafted by your legal team and reviewed by your medical team and signed off by all of your providers and your chief medical officer.
  • Adherence to Standard Operating Procedures: Ensuring a GFE was conducted for a particular patient by a qualified provider and was in line with recognized medical standards and guidelines.
  • Patient-Centered Care: Evaluating whether the treatment plan was tailored to the patient’s specific health status and aesthetic goals.
  • Documentation and Consent: Assessing the completeness and accuracy of documentation, including informed consent, treatment rationale, and patient education.

What To Do If You Get Notice of a Board Investigation

In the event of receiving notice of a board investigation, it is imperative not to confront the situation alone. Seeking immediate assistance from legal counsel is essential to safeguarding one’s professional license and livelihood. Facing an investigation entails bearing the burden of proving compliance and adherence to ethical standards. Thus, legal support is indispensable in mounting an effective defense.

Embracing Good Faith Examinations for Ethical Practice

Good Faith Examinations are not just regulatory requirements; they are foundational to ethical, patient-centered care in the aesthetic field. By adhering to the principles and practices of GFEs, we not only safeguard patients but also elevate the standard of care in our industry. Healthcare professionals are advocates for patients’ wellbeing, and it’s their duty to ensure that every aesthetic journey begins with a comprehensive and thoughtful good faith examination. The attorney team at Lengea Law coupled with the healthcare team at Spakinect can help you implement a good faith exam process to keep your practice compliant and keep your patients safe.