At the end of 2018, ByrdAdatto wrote several articles on the Texas Botox arrests that resulted in four different medical spa providers being led away in handcuffs or turning themselves into police. These arrests sent shockwaves through the med spa community as it marked an aggressive change in enforcement.
However, since that time, three of the four persons arrested are no longer being criminally pursued by the state. Michelle Bogle, the LVN injector, and Dr. Paula Springer-Bryant, MD, the medical director supervising Savvy Chic MedSpa, were both “no billed” in March 2019. A “no bill” means that the grand jury did not find sufficient grounds to indict the accused. Additionally, Ricky Delatorre-Aguirre, a medical assistant performing injections for RD Aesthetica MedSpa without any proper physician oversight, had his case dismissed July 2019. The Houston district attorney indicated on the dismissal motion that while there was probable cause, the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at that time. The final person indicted was Melissa Diaz Galvan, a medical assistant who was charged with the unlicensed practice of medicine and is being accused of writing prescriptions to patients on a prescription pad belonging to a physician. Her case is still ongoing with the next scheduled court date in February.
Many have speculated that the dismissals and no bills described above were due to the extremely technical and nuanced nature of the laws that were being violated, which resulted in the district attorney office not being able to clearly translate to the grand jury the violations that occurred. On the other side of the coin, the case against Ms. Galvan appears to be more straightforward, as the district attorney can show the exact prescription page(s) that she was signing on a physician’s pad.
Regardless, we would caution med spa operators from letting their guard down and thinking that this is a sign decreased criminal enforcement. For those that can remember the opening voice over in the TV show Law & Order, the justice system is made up of the police who investigate the crime and attorneys who prosecute them. While these specific circumstances resulted in dismissals, it does not mean that the police will stop arresting med spa personnel. It is critical to maintain compliance to prevent arrest in the first place. Even with a dismissal, the image of being led away in handcuffs from your facility is an image that is obviously best avoided. We will continue to monitor and provide updates on the enforcement actions being taken by the Houston police and other law enforcement units across the country.
As a final word of caution, the Texas Botox arrests made headlines because of the criminal allegations. Each of these providers and med spas likely continue to defend their licenses and ability to practice before the medical board. Although they may not face jail time, their livelihood may hang in the balance.
If you have any questions regarding delegation procedures or general compliance within your med spa, please contact ByrdAdatto at firstname.lastname@example.org.