Medical laser users must be certified - Tucson Local Media: Import

Medical laser users must be certified

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Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2005 12:00 am

March 2, 2005 - A new certification requirement placed on certain laser users has caused a Northwest cosmetic and plastic surgeon, along with a renowned laser specialist, to hold a certification training, the first of its kind in Arizona.

The call to action came with the new requirements established by the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency stating that anyone using a laser or Intense Pulsed Light device for hair elimination, non-ablative cosmetic skin rejuvenations or resurfacing must now be certified.

With more than 2,000 practicing laser users in Arizona, Holla'e Ploof-Mnatzaganian, board certified hair disorder specialist and multi-certified laser specialist, estimates that at least 80 percent of the doctors in Arizona are unaware of the new requirements for certification.

With the lack of awareness about the newly mandated requirements among current laser users, Ploof-Mnatzaganian thinks she and Jeffrey M. Nelson, a cosmetic, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, can use their expertise in laser technology to create and teach a required 40-hour course to any interested laser user.

"There is not a laser I am not certified on, lectured in, or taught," Ploof-Mnatzaganian said. "We have stepped up to the plate."

Ploof-Mnatzaganian is a laser specialist and has been in the field of laser technology for 25 years. She and Dr. Nelson, who is currently attending a conference, travel extensively teaching their specialties.

With her level of expertise and Nelson's vast knowledge of the field, Ploof-Mnatzaganian said it was natural to step up and create a course here in Tucson where laser users can come to train and receive certification.

The $4,000 per person course will be held over five days at St. Mary's Hospital, beginning March 30 and is scheduled to be held monthly until the requirement has been met.

Currently, there is no course in Arizona being held within a hospital setting offering this type of laser training, a move that Jan Howard, Carondelet Health Services spokeswoman is very excited about.

"We don't do this all the time," Howard said. "It is nice that we get to work with Dr. Nelson."

Nelson is Medical Director of St. Mary's Burn and Wound Care along with the Chief Plastic Surgeon at Northwest and St. Mary's hospitals.

Nelson is always at the forefront of cutting edge technology, Howard said.

Being on the edge of advances in technology and changing certification requirements is something that Ploof-Mnatzaganian says, as a professional, she is responsible for.

The Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency has not alerted each individual laser user of the changing requirements, a move that could explain why many in the state may not be aware of the new laws requiring an extensive training course and the passing of a 50 question exam with an 80 percent or better.

"It is trickling in as we speak," Ploof-Mnatzaganian said.

Under the old Arizona law only a doctor could purchase a laser, however, anyone under their supervision was able to use that laser, even if they were not properly certified.

Often doctors purchase lasers at conferences or laser sales representatives will come to the offices and provide in-house training on laser usage. Sometimes, the representatives can not and do not practice in laser techniques, Ploof-Mnatzaganian said.

The regulations for certification by the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency are just a way for Arizona to ensure that qualified professionals are adequately trained to use lasers, said Dan Kuhl, health physicist for the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency.

It is important for laser users to be certified and for all lasers to be registered, Kuhl said.

"We are a safety organization," Kuhl said. "We want to make sure that the people that are using these devices are using them in a safe manner."

While the practice of sales representatives going to doctors offices and selling the lasers will not change, the users certification requirements will and should, according to Kuhl.

"Manufacturers have ignored laws and were selling these devices (lasers) to anyone who had money," he said.

One way to regulate the use of lasers in the state is to make sure all lasers are registered and that the operators of the lasers have been adequately trained. A local dermatology office manager is very excited to get her staff to the laser training provided by Ploof-Mnatzaganian and Nelson.

Susan Britt-Roby, practice manager at Specialists in Dermatology, 2732 N. Alvernon Way, said she had no idea about the new certification requirements but quickly signed two staff members up for the training.

Specialists in Dermatology uses lasers on patients for hair removal, photo facials and spider vein elimination, a popular practice that Britt-Roby would not eliminate anytime soon.

"We are trying to be a practice that is full service," she said.

Licensed Nurse Susan McPherson-Paoli at Specialists in Dermatology will be attending the training March 30 and is looking forward to being certified and learning about lasers.

"I am very excited about it," she said, admitting that the training will be positive for the practice and for her professional career as a whole.

Ploof-Mnatzaganian said she is also excited about conducting the five-day training course but is a bit weary about the amount of time and money the course will cost her office and the offices of other attendees.

"It's a tremendous expense for the practice," she said, quickly adding that it is a long process but greatly overdue.

"Arizona is coming into compliance with the rest of the country," she said. "This is a positive."

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