Consumers are right to ask questions about patient safety following Shoppers Drug Mart’s announcement to open two clinics in Toronto.  

Shoppers will open cosmetic dermatology clinics in Oakville on Dec. 23 and in Don Mills in 2019. The press release states that nurse practitioners will oversee the operators, but is not clear on who will be providing injections, fillers and laser treatments.

That uncertainty raises concerns within an industry that is working hard to raise the bar in terms of professional standards and patient safety.

Professional injectors should have thorough training on facial anatomy.

The Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has missed the mark with criticism that only doctors can supervise medical aesthetic procedures and treatments in Ontario. As authorized by the College of Nurses of Ontario, nurse practitioners can within their scope of practice oversee and supervise medical aesthetics clinics.

We are pleased that nurse practitioners might receive employment opportunities at these retail clinics. It remains to be seen if customers will forgo the personal service and privacy of an independent clinic in favour of a corporate retail operation.

Regardless of where they go for treatment, potential patients should be vigilant about who will be providing their injections and anti-aging procedures. Are they professional practitioners? And how well have they been trained to minimize risks when doing treatments?

Before the needle hits the skin, trustworthy injectors should have a detailed understanding of facial anatomy before they navigate past myriad blood vessels and nerves with a needle or cannula. They should also have on-going knowledge of procedural techniques and the medical products used in different treatments.

While competition from a retail giant will put an economic squeeze on independent operators, we can’t fault Shoppers’ business decision to ride the wave of growing demand for non-invasive cosmetic services.

But for the sake of consumer confidence and patient safety, we hope Shoppers puts a premium on comprehensive training and the professional qualifications of its new injectors.