Body Piercing And Tattoos


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ouch! Complaints rise about bungled piercings

Ouch! Complaints rise about bungled piercings
There were seven complaints to local medical offices about botched and infected body piercings last year, but no one is sure if any of the faulty procedures were performed at licensed businesses in Ocean City.During the summer of 2003, the Worcester County Health Department received seven complaints about botched or infected body piercings, up one from the previous year, through six medical offices and Atlantic General Hospital.
Three of the reports received by the health department did not name the piercing establishment. Two noted that the jobs were performed outside of Worcester County and two were done by friends.
Most of the patients were teen-agers, including three 16-year olds and one 17-year-old. The other two patients were ages 21 and 31.
Three of seven complaints were related to infection, but one was questionable and not further investigated. Another complaint was about bleeding from the pierced site; one questioned the location of the piercing and one involved skin healing over the jewelry.
Of the seven cases, four were severe enough to warrant the patients visiting the doctor’s office, two required follow-up medical attention and one needed surgical intervention. Only one case required a repeat office visit.
Three reports were received in June, three in July and one in August. Doctors treating the patients said the piercings ranged from the same day to four months old.
Last year only 10 businesses, down three from the previous year, were permitted by the health department to perform body piercing. All of the shops were located in Ocean City. Of the 13 that had permits in 2002, only nine renewed and one existing facility was re-permitted under new ownership. No new businesses were permitted.
“Our number of establishments hasn’t been going up. It’s actually been decreasing a little,” Debbie Goeller, county health officer, said.
Just 13 piercers were licensed last year, down from 16 in 2002. Only 11 of those licensed in 2002 renewed their permits for 2003 and two new piercers were permitted.Of the five who gave up their licenses, three left the area, one had the license revoked and one just didn’t reapply.
Six of the people licensed last year were permitted to pierce in more than one shop, more than in the two previous seasons. In some cases, the piercers were working for the same business owner at multiple establishments.
The health department received complaints about two unlicensed piercers, one in Berlin and one in Pocomoke, who were allegedly piercing underage patrons using unsafe practices. However no action was taken because the people were not willing to name the piercers or act as witnesses.
One person also alleged that there was an unpermitted Boardwalk business offering piercing. The Ocean City Police Department investigated but could not verify the complaint.
Two complaints were about improper practices, not providing proper post piercing information, in piercing shops in the Boardwalk. The were also investigated and determined to be unfounded
Another complaint alleging improper practices at a shop could not be investigated because the woman admitted that she was so intoxicated before and during the procedure that she couldn’t remember where she was pierced.
One business and piercer were each suspended by the health department for 10 days in June for piercing an underage patron. Another business and piercer were suspended for 10 days in July for piercing an underage person as well as not getting copies of identification for nine patrons. A third business and piercer each received 20-day suspensions in September for piercing two underage people in August.
The Worcester County Commissioners agreed on March 16 to keep the body piercing permit and license fees the same for the coming year at $590 for an individual piercer license and $ 2,945 for the establishment permit. Goeller said costs for administering the program have remained relatively unchanged.
In order to coordinate the permit year with the county’s fiscal year, Geoller recommended extending the life of the permits and licenses for this year only from 12 to 15 months.
Health officials conducted 53 routine inspections of the permitted businesses through October and made 85 additional visits for various reasons, such as spore testing of sterilization equipment prior to reopening for the season, dissemination of information, retesting after a business failed a test, facility walk-throughs and investigations.
Sixty-four spore tests were conducted and only one piece of equipment failed. The test was repeated and the equipment passed.
Worcester County adopted its skin penetrating body adornment code in April 2001. The health department handles the permitting and licenses, keeps an out of for medical issues and investigations complaints.
Wor-Wic Community College provides the required training for new piercers through a health and safety course for practitioners.