At the intersection of nippers and nails, accidents can happen. Learn how to respond to avoid damage from an awkward and tense situation.
For the most part, your clients aren’t likely to sue you. However, if a cut or infection can be traced back to the salon — even if the link is only in the client’s mind — the client may want to make someone liable. With the potential of a lawsuit always hovering in the realm of possibilities, it’s important for nail techs to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and to respond correctly.
Remember this: If you have followed all sanitation protocols, and you send the client out of the salon with a clean, wrapped nail, it’s highly unlikely it will become infected. Even if a cut that occurred in the salon does become infected, the infection is not necessarily the result of the salon. The client needs to care for the wound at home to avoid infection, and it’s here you can help educate her on how to do that. That may sound something like this:
Client: (pulling her foot or hand away) Ow! Oh! I think you cut me!
You: Oh! You’re bleeding. Let me take care of this.
[Go get your first-aid kit. Put on gloves. Wash the area with soap and water or rinse with hydrogen peroxide. Apply a topical antibiotic and bandage the area. If it’s a very small break to the skin, apply pressure with a piece of cotton and put a bandage on if needed. Complete the nail service on the other nails, then return to the area where the skin was broken, keeping the bandage or medical tape in place.]
You: I’ve sanitized the skin, applied an antibacterial cream, and covered it. It’s not bleeding at all. How does it feel?
Client: It feels fines.
You: Perfect. Just keep the area clean and apply antibacterial cream to the area for the next couple of days and it should be fine.
You: [If the bleeding doesn’t stop immediately, you may not be able to complete the nail service on that nail. The bandage may be in the way or it could hurt too much to touch.] I’ve sanitized the skin, applied an antibacterial cream, and covered it. Keep the area clean and apply antibacterial cream to the area for the next couple of days and it should be fine. Let’s schedule you to come in a couple of days from now to finish this nail.
Client: OMG! What if it becomes infected?!
You: I follow all the regulations of the state to make sure clients are protected, including in situations like this. We washed your hands and my hands before the service started. I sprayed your hands and nails with a sanitizer, even though they were already washed, to make sure the surface of your nail and skin was clean; plus, all my tools are disinfected after every use or they are disposable, so they haven’t been used before. As long as you keep the area clean and covered, that cut should heal within the next few days.
Client. OK. You’re right. It should be fine.
> Dispose of gloves, cotton ball, and bandages by placing all items in a sealed plastic bag. Place that bag in a second sealed plastic bag labeled “biohazard.” Wash and soak implements in an EPA-registered disinfectant.
> Your best protection always comes from preparation. Be sure you’re following all sanitation guidelines from your state, that you keep your records updated to prove you regularly purchase disinfectant and disposable tools, and that your insurance is current.
> Note the incident in the client’s file. Describe what happened, how you responded and any at-home instruction you gave the client. Have her date and sign her name. If necessary, take a picture to note how clean it was when she left the salon.
For more on handling salon mishaps, read “Mistakes, Mishaps, and Malpractice.”