Complete Medical History Required For Manicure

In a dime-a-dozen business like nail salons, you need to have a hook or a gimmick to be unique. At the The Bella Aqua Spa in Laurinburg, North Carolina, they seem to have settled on requiring a copious amount of personal and medical history from you before you get to have a manicure as their little way of standing out.

Emily writes:

I went in to a new nail salon today, they asked if I’d ever been there before, I said no, and they said, “Oh, well there’s some paperwork we need you to fill out.” I didn’t really think much of it until I started looking it over. They were asking for a complete medical history, my marital status, birth date, and address. At a nail salon.

Being an avid Consumerist reader, I of course had to say something. The conversation went a little something like this:

“I’m sorry, why do you need my complete medical history?”
“Well, we need to know what kind of medication you’re on in case you have any joint problems. It’s like if you have a massage done or something.”
“Okay, but I’m getting a manicure, not a massage.”
“Well, you might want to later.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Well you get a massage with your manicure.”
“Right, but not a deep tissue massage.”
“Well, if you had carpal tunnel syndrome, we’d need to know that because it’s contra-indicated–“
“But if I had carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t you think I’d know that?”

So that goes on. I fill out n/a for every field. They didn’t even check when I handed them the form.

(Photo: Jake of


Edit Your Comment

  1. frari489 says:

    maybe they were sued by someone with carpal tunnel syndrome and this form is just to cover themselves from it happening again.

  2. agnamus says:

    This is the other side of the tort reform coin. On one hand, consumers need to sue when they are injured. On the other hand, to protect themselves, businesses will increasingly require liability waivers and invasive background checks to deal with you. Nothing is black and white in politics.

  3. OmicroN says:

    OK, so what attorney told this nail manicure place that they had to collect this medical information? Then, I would ask about the retention of said medical information. According to HIPAA, this medical information needs to be kept secure (simplifying here) and in a manner that would not be subject to unauthorized persons having access to it. Do the employees of the nail manicure place get HIPAA training and are HIPAA policies explained to them as with other healthcare professionals?

    Sounds very fishy to me. The North Carolina Attorney General’s office may even want to hear about this one…

    • agnamus says:

      @OmicroN: Nice try. Title II of HIPAA covering protected health information only applies to “health plans, health care clearinghouses, and to any health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with transactions for which the Secretary of HHS has adopted standards under HIPAA.” No e-transmission here, and I have a gut feeling that since your insurance doesn’t cover massages in spas (right?), it’s not a “health care provider.”

      To save you the trouble, no, they wouldn’t be covered under the business associate rule either.

      • British Benzene says:

        @agnamus: BS. I know that I get HIPAA training due to my handling worker’s compensation investigations at work. I’m not a provider or any of those mentioned, but I’m covered, trust me.

      • allthatsevil says:

        @agnamus: That may be true, but I think the bigger problem here is that a nail salon has no right to ask for that information in the first place. HIPAA was created for medical professionals because they are the only ones who should be privvy to that information. They take an oath not to divulge your medical information to anyone without your permission. I doubt anyone working at a nail salon cares, therefore they should not be asking for that info.

        • agnamus says:

          @allthatsevil: Uh, no. Anyone who could be sued into oblivion because they work on you without knowing that doing so could severely injure you.

          Think about it: when you sign up your kids for little league you have to fill out a sheet like this. When they enroll in school, every year they have to fill out a med history form. When you go to a personal trainer or join a gym, same thing.

          You’re right that they have “no right” to ask for such information. But you have “no right” to be served by them. Either play by their rules or take your business else where–it’s a free country.

  4. mzs says:

    They also need to know about diabetes and hemophilia. In fact there are nail salons that simply will not do your nails if either of those two conditions apply to you.

    • PsychicPsycho3 says:


      Diabetes? What does that have to do with nail polish?

      • @PsychicPsycho3: []

        You should also avoid using sharp objects to remove skin in any manner. These include, but are not limited to, razor blades, knives, and nail clippers. Speak to your healthcare professional about anything that you feel needs to be removed, such as warts, corns, or calluses. In some patients manicures and pedicures are allowable, but always check with your doctor. He or she may not feel either of these are safe in your case. Even though they may seem harmless, the removal of skin and cuticle material is an integral part of both a manicure and a pedicure. That can lead to an injury that could have been avoided.

      • Julia789 says:

        @PsychicPsycho3: My father had insulin dependent diabetes. His foot became infected from cutting himself just a tiny bit while trimming his toenails – easy to do since you have limited feeling/sensation when your nerves are damaged from diabetes. First they had to amputate his toes, then his foot, then his lower leg, then he died. He was only 65.

        So diabetes has a lot to do with nail salons. A cuticle pusher or nail clipper can cause a massive infection. Diabetics should know this, of course, but some ignore the warnings. So I would say the salon has a right to be worried.

        But instead of filling out personal info and medical history, they should instead just hang a sign on the wall that says “Do not use our services if you have any of the following medical conditions: diabetes, bleeding/clotting problems….” etc.

        My guess is that the medical forms are not only to cover their butts, but also to gain info for mailing promos and coupons.

    • Kitteridge says:

      @mzs: I get the hemophilia, but why diabetes?

  5. But if she was diabetic and got her cuticle nipped during the manicure, she could sue. Diabetics have special needs when it comes to their hands and feet. Businesses need to protect themselves.

  6. RobinB says:

    When I got edema in my arm (from losing lymph nodes) I stopped getting manicures. Just common sense if you know any small nicks or cuts can cause you major health problems.

  7. Hoss says:

    Cripes, It’s not like the police come every Tuesday to get medical updates, scan your computer, search your library records and charge you $350 for the visit. It’s a business. Walk away.

  8. misslisa says:

    As good Consumerists, shouldn’t we be doing our own nails at home anyway?

  9. devsgurf says:

    I can understand conditions like hep or TB (a stylist once warned me chop shop pedicures are a hotbed for TB but who knows) that can be transferred from one client to the next, but isn’t the client with a chronic condition supposed to know if they can have a manicure or not? I have filled out paperwork for waxing as certain medications leave you prone to losing a good deal of skin in a wax, but a manicure or pedicure seems extreme.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      “…isn’t the client with a chronic condition supposed to know if they can have a manicure or not?”
      @devsgurf: I would think so but on the other hand it’s amazing what information doctors won’t tell you sometimes. Don’t get me started.

      But instead of filling out personal info and medical history, they should instead just hang a sign on the wall that says “Do not use our services if you have any of the following medical conditions: diabetes, bleeding/clotting problems….” etc.
      @Julia789: This FTW. At worst the only thing they should have people signing is a disclosure stating this so they can prove their clients read the warning.

  10. loganmo says:

    Id like to know about the medical history of the salon. The last time I got a pedicure, I got a wart infection on my foot that took 3 months of painful treatments from a podiatrist to clear up.

  11. bohemian says:

    They are doing it wrong. If they are worried about liability just make a list of possible medical conditions that could cause issues and wrap it all in a waiver that absolves them from such things if you don’t tell or it is an odd one not listed. Asking for your medical history. I would walk.

    On the other side of the spectrum the Chinese massage kiosk at the mall will work you over no questions asked as long as you have a $20 in your hand.

  12. katiat325 says:

    why did the OP even bother to go through with it? yes, it’s new, but I’d rather go somewhere else where I don’t have to divulge my medical history. when i go to a nail salon, I expect to wait a while, read a girly magazine, and then get to have my nails done…not fill out needless paperwork for something that costs $15

  13. evilcharity says:

    @misslisa…fine, I’ll give on the mani, but do not fuck with my pedicure. Times aren’t quite that tough in the evilcharity household.

  14. mzhartz says:

    I’m guessing this is a lot more than a nail salon. I used to work in a spa that did dermatological procedures as well (yes, licensed). We used one form for everything, which sounds like it was the case here. But the esthetician always took a minute to look it over before any services. And if someone asked about it, we just asked them to let us know about anything we need to know before their service. And frankly, it also made us look good that we took that extra step to try and give us customers the most customized service possible as opposed to just running them through a manicure mill.

  15. 6502programmer says:

    I find it amusing that the nail salon is qualified to evaluate a customer’s medical history and determine what is and is not medically allowable. Somehow, I don’t believe they pass the applications through their staff physician before commencing treatment.

  16. TrustUs says:

    I found an Licensed Practical Nurse on myspace who works there, so they are apparently doing more than manicures.

  17. BytheSea says:

    I have filled out paperwork for waxing as certain medications leave you prone to losing a good deal of skin in a wax,

    EW really? *Awesome.* What kind of conditions?

    • devsgurf says:


      acne/anti-aging medications don’t mix well with waxing. the skin becomes much more delicate.

      @Rectilinear Propagation:

      That is true. Makes me think of all the drug commericals where you’re warned to tell your dr if you have hiv or kidney failure. umm..shouldn’t my doctor know that already?

      • XianZomby says:

        @devsgurf: Your doctor might not know because you might go to several doctors for several different conditions, and you might not have told every doctor about every other doctor. It’s the patient’s responcability to let every doctor they see know about every other doctor, what they are being treated for and what meds they are taking.

      • chatterboxwriting says:

        @devsgurf: Yeah, you would think, but some patients don’t disclose things from doctor to doctor. I was at the nephrologist the other day, and one of the staffers was on the phone with a GI doctor’s office – talking about how the patient in question was noncompliant and never showed up for her GI appointments, yet came to the nephrologist and complained about belly issues all the time. She had told the nephrologist she was going to the GI doc. So who knows what she could have withheld from either doctor.

      • Coelacanth says:

        @devsgurf: Sometimes you may see several different doctors. Specialists may not always be terribly informed about your entire health history. A psychiatrist, for instance, may not typically be concerned if you have kidney or liver dysfunction.

        Of course, in a perfect world, they’d be very careful and require full medical records – and read them.

  18. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    You can always lie.

    • alice_bunnie says:

      @Greasy Thumb Guzik:
      You can always lie

      To be perfectly honest, I often do this. I am a very well controlled Type II diabetic. I mean, I have sugars that are better than most non-diabetics. I never mention it to most people because otherwise I get lectures on how I shouldn’t get pedicures at normal salons, or that I shouldn’t eat X or drink Y. I’ve even been told I shouldn’t get massages. :/ I could see some very brittle diabetic with neuropathy not noticing damage, but not someone in my condition. I am better educated on my disease than they are, heck better than some of the diabetic educators, so I should know what I can and can’t do. Especially, if I were turned away from a nail salon from someone who is just following some protocol they only understand because of rote learning to pass some exam.

  19. rockergal says:

    people pay to have other people do their nails??
    In my 27 years on this planet I have never had my nails done with someone else.

    • Landru says:

      @rockergal: I quit biting my nails about five years ago and decided to treat myself to a manicure. It was the creepiest thing I’ve ever done (and I’ve been around the block a few times). The worst part was the weird sort of servant/master aspect and having them do this for me all the while knowing that they made squat as income.

      On my street there are nine nail salons. The operators rent the chairs from the owners at a such a rate that their only income is from tips. There are more nail salons than any other type of business. After a year or so, finally, the nail places are starting to close down.

  20. crystalattice says:

    This sounds similar to a virtual school we were looking at for our children (we move a lot).

    The school wouldn’t enroll the kids until we provided them medical histories, financial information, etc. Why does on online school need this stuff? Granted, they may get money from the government and therefore desire some of this information, but they don’t need their medical histories.

    It’s not like the virtual school has a virtual school nurse to give out virtual aspirin for a virtual headache.

  21. mikey07840 says:

    As a person with diabetes, I get my “pedicure” from my podiatrist. He checks my feet, trims my toe nails and takes care of calluses. I would NEVER get a pedicure or manicure.

  22. roguemarvel says:

    When I was visiting my parents in Oregon I got my nails done and a full body massage. Before I stared both (at different places) I had to fill out paper work with my contact information and list any medical conditions I might have. I guess in Oregon they have a law that requires spas and salons to get this information from there customers and keep i on file for 3 year.

  23. a_redrunner says:

    A person’s medical history is important as well as medical knowleadge, espically for the person themselves. If they have a medical issue they should be smart enough to know what activites might put them at risk. But in todays lawsuit happy society, businesses have to cover their tail because the US simpley has too many Lawyers and consumer advocates who feel that people are just plain too dumb to take care of themselves. Consequentaily we have to fill out forms for everything. I whole heartedly appluad Emily for using the appropiate N/A because obviously she is smart enough to know her own bodily system. Are you?

  24. Lucetta says:

    As a licensed cosmetologist and nail tech I thought I would throw my opinion into the mix. Was it overkill for said nail salon to ask for a COMPLETE medical history? Yes. I don’t think they should have asked for that much detail, but in today’s society how are we to decide how much detail is too much? Would it be invasive for me to ask if you use any skin care products with Retinol-A in them? How about if I asked you if you were currently menstruating? Both of these questions are directly related to the outcome of a waxing procedure. Retinol-A causes layers of skin to be removed, and if you are menstruating it is more likely that you will bleed where the hair was removed. I would not expect the average consumer to be familiar with these dangers.
    @ceejeemcbeegee: Have you ever gone to a cosmetology school to have services done? While I agree that there are some schools that are less than reputable most schools are a great place to get services done at a fraction of the price. One reason would be that all the state laws and regulations are strictly enforced not to mention fresh in the minds of said “trainees”. Another reason would be to help someone learn there craft. How do you think most stylists/nail tech/etc. get to be so good?
    I didn’t intend to make this post a novel, but I’m tired of hearing horror stories of salon experiences. When someone asks you for information of a medical nature in a salon it would be wise to give it to them. It could save you potential pain. How can you expect us to give you a fabulous service if you keep us in the dark?