Just when you thought this world could not get weirder. The story below describes a new fetish fad where New Yorkers is to cut veins to bleed over canvas or just bleed out among friends. Bloodletting parties involve what is called “arterial tapping,” whereby a dominant partner taps a submissive partner’s artery – the ultimate in bondage where the dominant partner controls actual blood flow. What I found most notable about the story from a legal perspective is the fact that it names the “Santos,” or organizer, of some of these parties as Dr. Edwin Perez, a licensed physician. That leads to an interesting question of whether Perez could be stripped of his license if the allegation is true.
The article discusses an event called The Cirque de Plaisir party which uses various Manhattan lofts in New York and charges $50 admission. The practice seems inherently suspect from a legal perspective as does the involvement of a physician. I have no objection to bondage and consensual acts, even acts that cause pain if it is between consenting adults. However, this involves the cutting of veins or arteries and the involvement of a doctor would reinforce the view that this is a medical practice. Yet, this allegation involves conduct after-hours for these people. It is not clear that the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners would have jurisdiction. First and foremost, these parties are occurring in New York.
Perez has worked in several Northern New Jersey anesthesiology practices, but there is no indication that he is holding himself out as a doctor in this role (though it is not clear if he is receiving compensation).
The practice itself could be viewed as medical in nature and raise licensing issues. New York law states:
“1. Anyone not authorized to practice under this title who practices or offers to practice or holds himself out as being able to practice in any profession in which a license is a prerequisite to the practice of the acts, or who practices any profession as an exempt person during the time when his professional license is suspended, revoked or annulled, or who aids or abets an unlicensed person to practice a profession, or who fraudulently sells, files, furnishes, obtains, or who attempts fraudulently to sell, file, furnish or obtain any diploma, license, record or permit purporting to authorize the practice of a profession, shall be guilty of a class E felony.”
Moreover, health regulations stipulate that “appropriate masks, gowns or aprons, and protective eyewear” should be used “whenever splashing or spattering of blood or other bodily fluid is likely to occur.”
The question could (assuming Perez is the “Santos”) be the nature of the bloodletting — medical or casual. While bloodletting was once common as a medical treatment, it was also performed by midwives and others. Moreover, people are allowed to cut and tattoo and even brand themselves. They are allowed to cause themselves or others pain if done with consent. If a private person can do these acts, it would seem that a doctor could do so as well. However, the risk of infection and serious bodily harm would seem to be present in such “parties.” Health regulations alone would raise serious questions, even putting aside professional codes of conduct.