CALIFORNIA - ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

March 18, 2008

California state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice

Under California’s Medical Practice Act, “complementary or alternative medicine” includes “those health care methods of diagnosis, treatment or healing that are not generally used but that provide reasonable potential for therapeutic gain in a patient’s medical condition that is not outweighed by the risk of the health care method.” Finding that it can take up to 17 years to establish new best practices, California recognizes the need to develop new treatments, but has also established certain requirements for physicians using alternative treatment regimens.

Under California law, a physician can not be penalized under the state medical practice act solely on the basis of practicing alternative or complementary medicine. However, when offering such care, physicians must provide for a patient’s complete informed consent prior to treatment. The informed consent process must provide the patient with full disclosure of the risks and benefits of treatment, as well as all other conventional treatment options. The physician must also describe the physician’s education, experience and credentials related to the alternative or complementary medicine that he or she practices. Further, prior to offering alternative care, a physician must render a complete patient examination.

Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 2234.1

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Updated 2008