N.C. Medical Board accuses doctor in spa hair removal death

Thursday, April 14, 2005
N.C. Medical Board accuses doctor in spa hair removal death
the associated press

The medical director of a spa is accused of improperly prescribing a powerful numbing gel used by laser hair removal clients and blamed for the death of a college student.

The North Carolina Medical Board on Wednesday said Dr. Ira David Uretzky failed to take medical histories or perform physical exams before the prescription gel was given to spa clients, as required by law. It also said he failed to give individual prescriptions for the gel.

The board could limit, suspend or revoke his license if it finds him guilty of the allegations. A hearing has been tentatively set for June 15.

Officials said Shiri Berg, 22, a student at North Carolina State University died of a lidocaine overdose Jan. 5 after she applied the anesthetic gel to her legs.

Berg was due to receive laser hair removal treatments at Premier Body Laser and Skin Clinic and apparently spread the gel on her legs, then wrapped them in cellophane. A passing motorist found her in her car having seizures on the morning of Dec. 28. She died nine days later.

The board said that, soon after Uretzky became medical director of the spa in November, he ordered 142 tubes of the gel from Triangle Compounding Pharmacy in Cary. They were inappropriately sold to the spa’s customers, the board said.

The board also said Uretzky failed to make sure the spa’s staff was appropriately trained and supervised, and that he did not properly register with the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy.

David Kirby, a lawyer for Berg’s parents, said the board’s findings agree with his own investigation.

Uretzky, who is listed as an ear, nose and throat specialist at a clinic in north Raleigh, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

N.C. Medical Board Examines Policies On Laser Hair Removal

POSTED: 7:33 pm EDT May 18, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C. – A committee from the North Carolina Medical Board met Wednesday to discuss tightening policies concerning laser hair removal.

The meeting prompting change comes after the January death of Shiri Berg, a North Carolina State University student who died from an overdose of lidocaine.

The medical board is considering whether doctors need to oversee the hair removal procedure on-site and how medicine from clinics is distributed.

In March, it heard from people who perform the treatment. On Wednesday, board members used that information and made recommendations based on what they learned.

Committee members said the procedure is surgery and should be overseen by a doctor, but the doctor does not need to be on-site.

“If I were a physician, I think I’d probably be around more than not,” said the medical board’s attorney, Thom Mansfield.

They also believe patients should be examined by a doctor before the procedure.

Berg’s father, Ron Tzur, was at that meeting and said he believes the North Carolina Medical Board has the power to save lives.

“You need to have someone to treat anesthetic when it goes wrong,” Tzur said. “That’s exactly what happened to Shiri and there was no one there to help her.”

The policy committee will make a recommendation to the full board in July.

Berg’s family is still considering a lawsuit against the parties they believe were involved in her death, which include the Premier Body Laser Clinic in North Raleigh, the doctor and the pharmacy.

They will not make a final decision on the lawsuit until the medical board makes its decision.