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Advocacy for Patient Safety by Dr. Michael McKelvey

A doctor’s duty

Maintaining our patients’ health is the primary duty of a physician. We do that in the exam room diagnosing and treating diseases, in surgery removing tumors, in the lab researching new treatments, and though our legislature advocating for public health initiatives. Dermatologists, many using their own money and time, have several proposed bills that they have prioritized at the local and national levels to promote their patients’ health and safety.

House Bill 329

One current priority is Ohio House Bill 329. This bill requires parental consent under the age of 18 to use tanning beds. Indoor tanning is damaging to the skin in many ways. It prematurely ages the skin and is a known contributor to skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, the most deadly type. The UV radiation that the skin is exposed to during tanning damages and mutates the DNA in our skin. Despite these dangers, 1.6 million minors tan each year. It is especially concerning because the damage done to the skin accumulates throughout a lifetime, and consequences may not be seen for decades after exposure. While dermatologists would prefer that no one expose themselves unnecessarily to dangerous UV light, we are especially concerned that minors, who may not understand the consequences of their decisions, have unlimited access to this dangerous practice.

Contact your local representative

The dermatologists of Ohio are actively lobbying the Ohio legislature to pass this bill. We believe that this bill will save lives in the same way that seatbelt laws and helmet laws save lives. Other dangerous activities with known health risks have commonsense age restrictions, like tobacco and alcohol use. We believe, at a minimum, that youths should have their parents’ permission before engaging in the dangerous activity of tanning.

House Bill 329 is just one example of your doctors working for your health outside of the exam room. If you feel as strongly as we do about protecting our youth, please contact your local Representative and tell them of your support for HB 329.


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