Raleigh physician Samuel Wurster agreed August 17 to a reprimand by the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) for his part in the death of a college student Shiri Berg. Berg had self-applied anesthetic gel lidocaine to her legs in preparation for laser hair removal at Premier Body Laser & Skin Care in Cary. Berg was provided the gel without a prescription by the skin care center. She suffered a seizure on Interstate 40 en route to the spa on December 28. A state DOT Motorist Assistance Patrol discovered the woman in her car on the highway’s shoulder. She was hospitalized in a coma and died eight days later at Rex Hospital in Raleigh.
Berg was a biochemistry major at North Carolina State University. The NC State Medical Examiner said Berg died of a lidocaine overdose. The report added she suffered brain damage and heart failure from the lidocaine in her bloodstream. lidocaine is a cream that numbs the skin area in preparation for removal of hair. The clinic went out of business the next month, according to local news reports.
Dr. Wurster had obtained the lidocaine for Premier Body and set up a system where spa patients could receive it without a prescription or physical exam. As of this writing he practices in Chicago. The NCMB sanction prohibits him from supervising future laser hair-removal procedures in any state, according to WRAL. Wurster served as medical director at the Cary spa from January to November 2004. The NCMB formally charged Dr.Wurster with “Unprofessional conduct for failing to take proper patient histories and for not writing prescriptions for patients who received the gel.”
Another physician was reprimanded and had his license suspended, Dr. Ira Uretsky. He was connected to the spa. Dr. Uretsky admitted to the NCMB that lidocaine was not dispensed properly. Records state 560 tubes of the substance had been sent to the clinic during Dr. Wurster’s tenure.
A law which goes into effect October 1st requires laser hair practitioners to complete 30 hours of laser training at a board-certified school and renew that certification annually. The NCMB now requires physicians to administer physicals to patients at clinics which perform hair-removal procedures.