We have all seen the horror stories of clients and members of the public having an allergic reaction from a hair dye as a result of either not being patch tested by the salon or performing a DIY job at home without following the package instructions. In most cases when you are dealing with clients in salon, if you do not comply with the regulation to undertake a patch test, not only are you in danger of harming your client but you are also in danger of not being covered by your insurance should a problem arise. With this being such a sensitive and important topic, we have a list of every thing you need to know about patch tests.
When should I patch test?
With most business insurance, it is a condition that you must perform patch tests on the first appointment with a client whereby the treatment requires testing. This would be at the consultancy stage and is a step that should never be missed. Also be aware of manufacturer guidelines for patch testing as some will require you to re-test clients whom haven’t been patch tested in the last 12 months or more. Also ensure that during your consultation, you are checking whether your client has any medical conditions or a change in their health which may lead to a reaction in some of the products ingredients. Whether in doubt or not, you should always ensure your clients are patch tested prior to their treatment.
How do I patch test?
Ensure that all patch tests are undertaken in accordance to your training and manufacturer guidelines. If a client has an allergic reaction after a patch test has been performed, you cannot insure against these reactions as there has been no negligence. However if a client has a reaction to a product where no patch test was performed, the therapist or stylist has failed in their duty of care and may be liable for any claims. If a client had a contra-indication, then it is up to the discretion of the employee to decide whether you carry out the service. As a professional, you are by law viewed as knowing what is best for your client.
What to do if a claim is made?
At any stage of a treatment or a service, a client has the right to complain or make a claim. Whilst this does seem frightening, it will only be upheld if the employee performing the treatment or service is guilty of negligence. To avoid any circumstances like this, it is imperative that you perform a patch test and make a record of this on their client record card in your software system. This enables your insurance company to defend you should any claim against you arise.