California and other state medical boards still run undercover investigations for unlicensed practice of medicine. California is in the minority of states that have a statute that authorizes non-licensed practitioners of the healing arts to offer healing services.
California also has an unusual provision, authorizing the practice of nutrition, so long as the individual provides a specific disclaimer, does not use a prohibited title (such as registered dietician), and does not intrude upon any licensed professional practice. This is a useful provision for non-licensed practitioners. Our office recently received a call from a chiropractor who is licensed in a state outside California, and who was seeking legal counsel about setting up a practice as a non-licensed practitioner of the healing arts in California, pending securing of a California chiropractic license. These kinds of situations frequently arise – ie, a practitioner is licensed in one state, but goes into another state, in which that individual is considered a non-licensed practitioner (despite their training and credentials) and must operate as such.
These kinds of laws permitting non-licensed practice exist side by side with prohibitions against practicing medicine without a license.
In my first book on healthcare law, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives, I talked about the origins of these laws in the political landscape of the late 19-th century, and argued that we needed to modernize our statutes so as to create a broader landscape of statutory authorization for healing beyond the biomedical model. Those ideas are embodied in statutes such as California’s legislation (SB 577, codified in the California Business & Professions Code). However, unlicensed medical practice is still a crime.
Recently, the California medical board arrested a man for conspiring to practice medicine without a license. This person authored “The ph Miracle,” a diet designed to “alkalinize the body.” He also, according to the medical board’s press release, “took it a step too far when he went beyond advocating dietary changes and began using intravenous treatments on patients housed at his avocado ranch.”
The Board’s boilerplate emphasizes that its role is to protect health care consumers through proper licensing and regulation of physicians and allied health professionals through vigorous, objective enforcement of the law. Our law firm counsels practitioners on how to develop practices and offer their healing services, without running afoul of legal constraints of practice. Contact us if you have questions regarding your professional practice, whether you are a physician, surgeon, chiropractor, naturopathic doctor, massage therapist, nutritionist, psychologist, social worker, practitioner of Reiki or hypnotherapy, nurse, or other licensed or non-licensed healthcare professional, or the owner of a health care business such as a medical spa or medical device company. We work with health care products (such as dietary supplements) as well as practitioners and facilities on a variety of regulatory and transactional matters.