Naturopath Licensing Bills Put Patients at Risk

As crossover approaches at the North Carolina General Assembly it is possible that SB 118/HB 913 – Naturopathic Doctors Licensing Act may be debated. This legislation proposes to create a third classification of physician in North Carolina.

Current law permits the licensure of Medical Doctors (MD) and Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) – both regulated by the North Carolina Medical Board. SB 118/HB 913 propose to license Naturopathic Doctors (ND) under their own licensing board.
Only 18 states currently license naturopaths, none of which are in the Southeast.

Allowing practitioners without medical training to refer to themselves as doctors is confusing to the public and poses a risk to safety. Use of the initials ND is especially confusing when compared to MD (medical doctor) and NP (nurse practitioner) titles.

SB 118/HB 913 would allow naturopaths to order tests and manage chronic disease as a primary care provider. The bills allow naturopaths to treat infants and children, diagnosis and treat mental health conditions, even diagnosis and treat cancer.

If naturopathic treatment is endorsed by the legislature as adequate treatment of life-threatening and chronic disease, patients are put in harms way. Ineffective naturopathic treatment could delay much needed medical services, leading to complications and even death.

Finally, in states where naturopaths have been licensed, there appears to be an immediate and constant push for expanded scopes of practice to include the ability to prescribe controlled substances. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians notes on its website, “… seven more states are pursuing scope modernization, particularly expanded prescribing authority” this year alone.

For these reasons the Coalition opposes SB 118 and HB 913.

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