You Can Now Practice Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Under Health Freedom Legislation SB 577  you can practice alternative and complimentary therapies like: Polarity Therapy, Acupressure, Aroma Therapy, Ayurveda, Brehma,  Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, etc. without a massage license. You can legally advertise and offer your services in; Apitherapy, Bach Flowers,  Chrystal Healing, EFT, Herbology,  Homeopathy, Hypnotherapy, Shamanism,   etc
January 1, 2003: The dawn of a new era...
On September 23, 2002, history was made in California. With the unanimous support of the legislature, Governor Davis signed into law SB-577, sponsored by the California Health Freedom Coalition (CHFC) and authored by Senator John Burton.

As of January 1, 2003, California law now recognizes the professional legitimacy of alternative and complementary health care practitioners and healers allowing them, for the first time, to be able to legally provide and advertise their services in California.

California law defines massage as the "scientific manipulation of soft tissues".  It is my understanding that working with the body through esoteric principles as a field of energy/consciousness as illustrated in my book Esoteric Anatomy: The Body As Consciousness,  and as detailed in the Standards For Practice and Code of Ethics of the American Polarity Therapy Association, is outside of the scope of practice of massage ( but I am not a lawyer, thank Goddess). In my understanding you can advertise and practice Polarity Therapy Energy Balancing under SB577.

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California 
Health Freedom legislation 
Senate Bill 577
Signed into law by Governor Davis on September 23, 2002
Provides access to alternative and complementary health.

1. The law requires unlicensed alternative and complementary health care practitioners to provide basic information to consumers about themselves, their training, and their work.
2. Client receipt of disclosure materials must be acknowledged in writing and retained for three (3) years by the practitioner.


Disclosure of Compliance with CA Health Freedom Legislation,
(Senate Bill 577, passed into law September 23, 2002)

I ____________________________ am practicing an alternative and complementary health care modality as a Polarity Therapy Energy Balancing Practitioner.
(Name of Practitioner)

As an Energy Balancing Practitioner I facilitate health building, and life enhancing balanced energy through:
a) Working with the bodies energy fields to release stress, tension, trauma and blocked energy to restore optimal balance and radiant health
b) Working with Therapeutic Presence to balance energy and promote inner peace, vitality and well-being.
b) Teaching Energy Exercises for daily self care promoting grounding, clarity, energy, and bodily ease and flexibility.
c) Teaching Music Therapy through Mantra Yoga to balance energy and promote lucidity and bliss.
d) Teaching Sensation Based Awareness to facilitate bodily presence, comfort, ease and safety.
e) Facilitating Somatic Emotional Clearing to support the client in taking personal responsibility for consciously re-framing their past to facilitate enhanced bodily presence, comfort and safety.

Energy Balancing Techniques Promote Health and Happiness
1) Facilitates the deeply healing experience that it is safe to be fully present in our bodies.
2) Facilitates the experience of “balanced energy” that promotes  a health building connection to Life and Nature.
3) Teaches Music Therapy through Mantra yoga for daily self care grounding, energy, clarity and well-being.

I have been studying and practicing Polarity Therapy Energy Balancing  for _______ years ____months.
I have studied in the following areas and earned the following certificates and awards.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Name of Field of Study,   Hours of Instruction,  Date of Completion

____________________________________________________________________________________
Name of Field of Study,   Hours of Instruction,  Date of Completion 

____________________________________________________________________________________
Name of Field of Study,   Hours of Instruction,  Date of Completion 

In order to use my services, California state law requires that you acknowledge receipt of the information provided in this form and that you sign it.  

Polarity Therapy Energy Balancing  is an alternative or complementary healing art that has been legislated by the State of California.  Under Sections 2053.5 and 2053.6 of California’s Business and Professions Code, I can offer you these services, subject to requirements and restrictions that are described fully here

If you ever have any concerns about the nature of your treatment, please feel free to discuss them with me.  I recommend that you inform your medical doctor that you are receiving Polarity Therapy Energy Balancing treatments.

Acknowledgement and Consent to Receive Services:

I _______________________ (client prints name) have read and understand the disclosure about the  treatments described above. I understand that Polarity Therapy Energy Balancing  works with health building not disease treatment. Energy Balancing Practitioners do not diagnose or treat illness or disease, physical or mental.  I understand that  Energy Balancing Practitioners  are not physicians nor are they licensed by the state.  I understand it is my responsibility to maintain a relationship for myself/my child with a medical doctor.   I understand that  Energy Balancing Practitioners  are not  massage therapists or bodyworkers as they work with the body as a field of energy using esoteric principles. I have consented to use the services offered described above, and agree to be personally responsible for the fees  in connection with the services provided to me.

Signed:  ___________________________ Date:  _________________________
(client/parent/conservator/guardian)


Indicate capacity to sign if other than client ________________________

Signature of practitioner _______________________    Date______






CHFC
 :: Resources :: Providers FAQ
Working to protect freedom of access to alternative health care in California

FAQ for Complementary and Alternative Health Providers
This page will attempt to answer the most common practitioner questions about the need for, impact of, and compliance required by SB-577. Please email us with any other questions and concerns that you would like to see addressed.
After you finish reading this page, you can download the CHFC Compliance Package, which contains a 7-page legal analysis of SB-577, a sample compliance form, an information sheet for your patients or clients, and a formated version of this FAQ sheet.
  1. Why was SB-577 an important bill to pass?
  2. Which practices does this new legislation actually apply to?
  3. What are the requirements for compliance under SB-577?
  4. Who is not protected by SB-577?
  5. What happens if I don't comply with the law?
1. Why was SB-577 an important bill to pass?
Here are some of the most important reasons:
  1. Freedom to Practice: Prior to the implementation of SB577 on January 1, 2003, virtually anyone practicing any kind of unlicensed healing art in California was in technical violation of the Medical Practice Act and could be prosecuted for "practicing medicine without a license." Now, practitioners willing to comply with the requirements of SB-577 can offer their services freely within California without fear of being charged with a felony crime.
  2. Freedom of Access: With the illegal onus removed from unlicensed practitioners, we expect more services to be more widely practiced and advertised, which will increase the health care options for consumers.
  3. Mainstreaming I: Legitimizing alternative and complementary health care practices means that they will be able to more freely contribute to the current dialogue that is taking place in the government, academia, and the health care industry.
  4. Mainstreaming II: Unlicensed practices are now more likely to develop professional associations and training programs that result in a high quality of service.
  5. Mainstreaming III: As practices become more visible and more professional, there is greater likelihood that money will become available to research and further validate the efficacy of particular approaches.
  6. Mainstreaming IV: Licensed professionals are more likely to become aware of, communicate with, and refer to unlicensed health care professionals in compliance with SB-577.
2. Which practices does this new legislation actually apply to?
This legislation applies anyone who is not otherwise licensed as a health care provider under California law and "who practices or attempts to practice, or who advertises or holds himself or herself out as practicing, any system or mode of treating the sick or afflicted in this state, or who diagnoses, treats, operates for, or prescribes for any ailment, blemish, deformity, disease, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other physical or mental condition of any person..." [California's Business and Professions Code Section 2052 ].
This could apply to practitioners of: acupressure; aromatherapy; ayurveda; cranial sacral therapy; culturally traditional healing practices; detoxification practices and therapies; energetic healing; polarity therapy; folk practices; healing touch; herbology or herbalism; homeopathy; iridology; body work and massage therapy; meditation; mind-body healing practices; naturopathy; yoga teachers; and unlicensed traditional Oriental practices, such as Qi Gong energy healing.
Any of these practitioners, who comply with the requirements in SB-577, will be protected from prosecution from the medical board for practicing medicine without a license.
3. What are the requirements for compliance under SB-577?
There are two categories of compliance: thing you must do (such as disclose your training and qualifications to your clients in a written form) and things you must not do (such as represent yourself as a doctor or engage in potentially dangerous practices that doctors are allowed to do). You should read the bill carefully for the complete requirements.
In addition, we have provided a 7-page analysis of the bill, which you can download. Finally, you can also download a sample Disclosure Form that you can modify for your practice. We also encourage you to seek counsel from your own private attorney as to how best to comply with SB-577 and the legal ramifications to your practice.
4. Who is not protected by SB-577? 
If you choose not to comply with the provisions of SB-577, you could be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. In addition, whether you comply or not, practitioners making fraudulent claims for their services can still be prosecuted under consumer protection laws. You also need to know that a recent change in California law makes conviction for practicing medicine without a license a felony offence.
5. What happens if I don't comply with the law?
Nothing, if the law doesn't apply to your practice. For example, if you are doing relaxation massage in a spa setting, refer to yourself as a massage practitioner instead of a massage therapist, make no representation to clients/patients in your advertising that you intend to treat any physical or mental problem, then you can probably legitimately claim that you are providing a personal care service, rather than a health care service.
However, if the law does apply to your practice, a couple of things could happen if you do not not comply with the law.
  1. Nothing may happen if the California Medical Board (CMB) is not aware of your practice. Even if you are visible, the CMB may choose to ignore you because either they think you pose a low risk to the health and welfare of the citizens of California or because they don't have the resources to find and prosecute you.
  2. Since you will not be protected by SB-577, there is also the possibility that you will be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. If you are found guilty you could be prevented from practicing your healing art, fined, or even jailed.
  3. You can be subject to a variety of civil claims by private parties for conducting a business in violation of the law.
For most complementary and alternative health care providers, the compliance requirements are not onerous and may add a level of credibility and professionalism to your practice. Thus, we urge you to check out our downloadable sample disclosure form in our Compliance Package and incorporate a version of it into your practice.

 

Copyright © 2001-3 California Health Freedom Coalition

CHFC :: Resources :: Consumers
Working to protect freedom of access to alternative health care in California

FAQ for Complementary and Alternative Health Consumers
This page will answer the most common consumer questions about SB-577. Please email us with any other questions and concerns that you would like to see addressed.
After you finish reading this page, you can download a formatted version of this FAQ sheet, a copy of the legislation, a 7-page legal analysis and other documents.
  1. My practitioner has formal credentials (certification) in his/her healing art. Doesn't that mean s/he is licensed?
  2. How have alternative practitioners been able to practice up until now?
  3. How does SB-577 change the law?
  4. What if I have a problem with a practitioner?
  5. What if I am also seeing a licensed practitioner? Can I see both alternative and conventional practitioners at the same time? Can I tell my licensed practitioner about my unlicensed practitioner and vice versa?
1. My practitioner has formal credentials (certification) in his/her healing art. Doesn't that mean s/he is licensed?
Practitioners who are certified have met certain requirements that demonstrate their proficiency in their profession. Certification exams are administered by the professions themselves, not by the State (for example, a massage organization certifies massage practitioners). Whether or not the state of California licenses a particular form of healing art is a completely separate issue. Having a license simply means that a practitioner can legally practice (within the scope of their license) in California. A practitioner may be very well trained, experienced and certified in their healing art but not have a license. In fact, most alternative therapies are not licensed at all by California - for example, naturopathy, homeopathy, reiki, ayurveda, craniosacral therapy, and many other therapies are not licensed. However, with SB-577, unlicensed practitioners will be able practice legally, subject to the requirements of the bill.
2. How have alternative practitioners been able to practice up until now?
Most unlicensed alternative practitioners could have been found to be in technical violation of the law up until the passage of SB-577, because they might have been "practicing medicine without a license". In fact, practitioners could have been prosecuted even if they had caused no one harm and their practice had nothing to do with medicine in the conventional sense. Because of these legal prohibitions, practitioners have been inhibited from holding themselves out to the public and developing professional standards. The laws have also discouraged many individuals from training to become practitioners, slowing the development of alternative healing professions. These prohibitions have also served to discourage clients of alternative practitioners and practitioners themselves from communicating with doctors.
3. How does SB-577 change the law?
SB-577 allows unlicensed practitioners to practice legally as long as they do not perform certain medical activities or put their clients at risk of serious harm. For example, unlicensed practitioners will, of course, not be allowed to perform surgery, puncture the skin, harmfully invade the body, prescribe controlled drugs, or recommend that clients discontinue drugs that were prescribed by a licensed practitioner. They also can't set fractures, treat wounds with electrotherapy, or treat or diagnose with radiation. They also have to make absolutely clear to their clients that they are not licensed physicians. They must disclose what their training and experience is, and they must explain the rationale behind their method of treatment. Additionally they must keep records that show that they have disclosed this information to their clients.
4. What if I have a problem with a practitioner?
First of all, talk to your practitioner and try to work out any problem with him or her. If that proves to be unsatisfactory, contact your practitioner's professional association or certifying organization. Finally, SB-577 does nothing to stop you from seeking relief for negligence or any other kind of civil remedy against a practitioner.
Actually, SB-577 creates an atmosphere that will improve public safety. First, SB-577 explicitly prohibits practitioners from treating clients in a way that causes or creates risk of great physical or mental harm, and it explicitly forbids certain medical activities. Second, it requires practitioners to disclose their training and experience as well as the rationale behind their treatment. Third, SB-577 will facilitate the development and growth of professional societies of those therapies. These organizations will be better able to improve training and monitoring of their practitioner members.
As always, responsibility ultimately rests with you as a client or patient for wisely choosing a professional who has good training, experience, and skills. Talk to friends for referrals and ask for references. Check to see if your alternative practitioner has been certified by a professional membership society. Ask your practitioner any questions you have. Tell your doctor that you are using an alternative or complementary therapy.
5. What if I am also seeing a licensed practitioner? Can I see both alternative and conventional practitioners at the same time? Can I tell my licensed practitioner about my unlicensed practitioner and vice versa?
One of the main consequences of SB-577 is that it allows the practice of alternative therapies. This means that your unlicensed alternative practitioner will be able to operate freely and openly. We hope it will also encourage and facilitate communication between alternative and complementary practitioners and licensed physicians. We think that this is another way in which SB-577 will enhance your health freedom and your safety. Ideally, everyone should be monitored by a licensed medical practitioner. You should consult this practitioner about any serious medical concerns you have.
Copyright © 2001-3 California Health Freedom Coalition



Detailed Discussion of SB-577 Teachersplease read!

Page 1 of 7 Copyright © 2003 by California Health Freedom Coalition. 
Please do not copy or modify this document. 
To download a copy, please visit www.californiahealthfreedom.org.
 MEMORANDUM ON CALIFORNIA SENATE BILL SB-577 SB-577 
(Chapter 820 of the Statutes of 2002), 
authored by Senator John Burton, will take effect on January 1, 2003.

This measure was enacted for the specific purpose of enabling complementary and alternative healthcare practitioners to lawfully practice in California without violating the state’s Medical Practice Act, subject to specified restrictions and conditions. 

Background 
Since early in this century, California’s Medical Practice Act has prohibited any person from providing medical care to the sick or afflicted without a valid license to practice medicine, or a valid license to practice some other more narrowly defined healing arts profession, such as dentistry, chiropractic, nursing, or (more recently) acupuncture. 

Like most states, California’s Medical Practice Act provides for a sweeping, virtually unlimited scope of practice for licensed physicians, and broadly prohibits any person who does not have a physician’s or other healing arts license from providing any treatment for any condition. Specifically, Section 2052 of California’s Business & Professions Code prohibits any person who is not a licensed physician from practicing, attempting to practice, advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing, “ ... any system or mode of treating the sick or afflicted..., or who diagnoses, treats, operates for, or prescribes for any ailment, blemish, deformity, disease, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other physical or mental condition of any person ...”. Violation of this Section is a misdemeanor, as is aiding or abetting in its violation. 1 

Because of the breadth of the prohibition against practice by non-physicians contained in the Medical Practice Act, virtually any treatment by unlicensed practitioners, including complementary and alternative healthcare practitioners, has been illegal. In addition to prosecution that could result in fines and imprisonment, unlicensed practitioners also face potential action by the California Medical Board, the agency which administers the Medical Practice Act, which has the power to issue administrative cease and desist orders.

 1 Effective January 1, 2002, violation of Section 2052 may also be punished as a felony. 

Page 2 of 7 

SB-577 narrows the scope of healing arts practice that is reserved exclusively for physicians, provided certain conditions are met. The balance of this memorandum discusses more specifically the healing arts practices that may be performed by unlicensed individuals; the conditions for exemption from the Medical Practice Act; and related issues. 

The Elements of SB-577 
I. Purpose and Approach
 SB-577 states that its purpose is to facilitate access by Californians to alternative and complementary health practitioners who do not require medical training and credentials. It further finds that millions of Californians are presently utilizing these services, and that these “non-medical complementary and alternative services do not pose a known risk to the health and safety of California residents”. These recitations are important in understanding the approach established by SB-577 in allowing alternative and complementary health practitioners to legally function. SB-577 does not specifically authorize any particular form of healing arts practice. Instead, it recognizes that there are a wide variety of unlicensed healing arts practices and practitioners who can safely provide their services to the residents of California, without specifically identifying them. In effect, the legislature has determined that these practices do not pose a significant risk to the health and well-being of California citizens, and it is not necessary to protect the public by restricting them through a licensing or other regulatory requirement. This approach provides great freedom and flexibility for the development and practice of alternative and complementary medicine. At the same time, the legislature has imposed specific limits and conditions on practitioners who do not have a healing arts license, including disclosures that must be made to their clients, and to the public in any advertisement. 

II. What is not permitted
 The Medical Practice Act will continue to be applicable to anyone who performs any of the following services: (1) conducts surgery or any other procedure on another person that punctures the skin or harmfully invades the body; (2) administers or prescribes X-ray radiation to another person; (3) prescribes or administers legend drugs or controlled substances to another person; (4) 

 Page 3 of 7 
recommends the discontinuance of legend drugs or controlled substances prescribed by an appropriately licensed practitioner; (5) willfully diagnoses and treats a physical or mental condition of any person under circumstances or conditions that cause or create a risk of great bodily harm, serious physical or mental illness, or death; (6) sets fractures; (7) treats lacerations or abrasions through electrotherapy; or (8) holds out, states, indicates, advertises, or implies to a client or prospective client that he or she is a physician, a surgeon, or a physician and surgeon.

 Some of these items are discussed in greater detail below. Additionally, SB-577 does not authorize complementary and alternative health practitioners to practice or hold out in a manner which violates any other healing arts licensing statute, such as those for dentistry, acupuncture, nursing, physical therapy, etc.

 III. Restrictions Related to the Risk of Treatmen
One of the most important and ambiguous restrictions applicable to unlicensed practitioners is the proscription against the willful diagnosis and treatment of “ ... a physical or mental condition of any person under circumstances or conditions that causes or creates a risk of great bodily harm, serious physical or mental illness, or death”. The phrase “a risk of” was added by amendments accepted by the author in the Assembly Health Committee over the objection of the sponsor. With the addition of this language, this provision mirrors existing Business & Professions Code Section 2053, which subjects a person to potential felony as well as misdemeanor penalties for its violation. 2 The concept of “great bodily harm” is not an element of the unlawful practice of medicine, and is generally applied as an enhancement to a conviction for that offense. People v. Brown, (2001) 109 Cal.Rptr.2d 879. Thus, a practitioner who violates this requirement of SB-577 would not only lose the immunity from prosecution under the Medical Practice Act, but would be potentially subject to felony penalties. 

 2 Section 2053 was repealed by SB-1950 (Chapter 1085, Statutes of 2002), effective January 1, 2003. However, the same legislation allows felony penalties to be applied for violation of Section 2052. As a matter of practice, felony penalties under a statute that can also be used for misdemeanor penalties are generally not requested by the prosecutor or imposed by the court absent aggravating circumstances such as serious harm, prior convictions, the relative sophistication of the victim, or fraud. 

Page 4 of 7 

The Assembly Health Committee amendments allow the Medical Practice Act to be invoked in situations where there is not direct causation between the actions of an alternative health practitioner and harm to the patient. The risk of serious harm alone is sufficient to trigger violation of the Medical Practice Act. However, the determination of whether the actions of an alternative health practitioner cause or create an actual risk of “great bodily harm, serious physical or mental illness, or death”, is a factual question, ultimately subject to a judicial determination. The possible violation of this provision could be investigated by the California Medical Board, and prosecuted by proper enforcement authorities, including the State Attorney General and local district attorneys. 

As noted earlier, the overall design of SB-577 contemplates that the provision of services by alternative and complementary health practitioners is inherently not dangerous. These requirements make it clear that such practitioners are prohibited from performing procedures that put their clients at risk for great bodily harm or serious illness.

 IV. Conditions 
SB-577 requires a practitioner to do all of the following prior to providing services to a client: “Section 2053.6(a) ... (1) Disclose to the client in a written statement using plain language the following information: (A) That he or she is not a licensed physician. (B) That the treatment is alternative or complementary to healing arts services licensed by the state. (C) That the services to be provided are not licensed by the state. (D) The nature of the services to be provided. (E) The theory of treatment upon which the services are based. (F) His or her educational, training, experience, and other qualifications regarding the services to be provided. 

Page 5 of 7 
 (2) Obtain a written acknowledgement from the client stating that he or she has been provided with the information described in paragraph (1). The client shall be provided with a copy of the written acknowledgement, which shall be maintained by the person providing the service for three years. 

Section 2053.6(b) The information required by subdivision (a) shall be provided in a language that the client understands....” 

These requirements are generally straightforward. A form that can be utilized to assist practitioners in making these disclosures is included with this memorandum. However, the description of the services to be provided and the theory of treatment upon which the services are based are items that will have to be filled in by each practitioner. Generally, the description of the services to be provided need not be highly detailed (however, see discussion below under “Consent Issues”). The description should, however, be sufficient to give the client a basic comprehension of the procedure that is being performed, including an understanding of how it will be administered, what it is expected to accomplish, and the likely results. It should describe any risks or discomfort that the patient might experience during the procedure. Likewise, the theory of treatment must be expressed in a manner that is comprehensible to the patient. It should include neither technical jargon nor terms that are undefined. 

Of some concern is the requirement that the written disclosure must be provided in a language that the client understands. In practice, this could be difficult. It is conceivable that the client may understand the information contained in the disclosure through verbal communication, but be illiterate in English. If the client is not literate in English, a practitioner will have to translate the disclosures and provide them in written form to the client in a language he/she does understand.

 V. Consent Issues 
Although SB-577 requires a practitioner to obtain a written acknowledgement from his or her client stating that he or she has been provided with the disclosures that are required by SB-577, nothing in the act speaks to obtaining consent from the client for the procedure to be performed. 

 Page 6 of 7 
 A reasonable reading of SB-577 is that a client who signs an acknowledgement of having received all of the required disclosures has received enough information to make an informed decision and by proceeding with the procedure has provided consent. However, practitioners should consider obtaining written consent in connection with the client’s acknowledgement of disclosure information required by SB-577.

 It is essential for practitioners to obtain the actual consent of the client prior to administering treatment. Even if the treatment is effective, and no harm comes to the patient, unconsented treatment may subject the practitioner to civil prosecution for battery. 3 Practitioners should be aware that consent may not be validly given if the client: lacks capacity to give consent; does not understand the disclosures provided by the practitioner; or raises questions about treatment that are not answered or comprehended. 

The courts have determined that for medical procedures that are complex, “informed consent” is required. Cobbs v. Grant, 8 Cal.3d 229. This standard has been specifically developed for medical procedures, and it is not certain that informed consent will be required for any type of treatment by an alternative health practitioner.   Additionally, the requirements of informed consent are that the patient must first be informed of: (1) the nature of the procedure; (2) the risks, complications, and expected benefits of the procedure; (3) any alternatives to the treatment and their risks and benefits; and (4) potential conflicts of interest. The first two requirements are similar to the statutory disclosures mandated by SB-577. As a matter of practice, practitioners may also wish to disclose financial or other conflicts of interest (e.g., research) they may have in treating or referring a client prior to providing treatment of making a referral; and at least ask the client if medical treatment has been provided or considered. 

VI. Record Keeping 

SB-577 requires an alternative health practitioner to obtain a written acknowledgement from his/her client of the receipt of information contained in the required disclosures, to provide a copy of the written acknowledgment to the client, and to maintain the original acknowledgement

 3 A civil battery, generally, is an intentional act causing a harmful or offensive touching. 

Page 7 of 7 
for three (3) years. The most effective way to accomplish this is probably by having the client sign the disclosure statement acknowledging that he/she has reviewed and understands its content. There is no requirement relating to the location of these records, or how they may be stored or accessed. It is clear, though, that the treating practitioner is responsible for their maintenance, and must be able to produce them during the required three (3) year period. 

VII. Confidentiality 
SB-577 is silent regarding the protection of information concerning clients and their health conditions or treatment. However, there are extensive federal and state laws governing the confidentiality of health information. California’s “Confidentiality of Medical Information Act” (“CMIA”) (California Civil Code Section 56.10, et. seq.) prescribes extensive rules defining patient medical information and the requirements for disclosing such information. More recently, as part of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), the federal government has enacted sweeping rules governing the use and disclosure of “protected health information”, as defined. The determination of whether alternative health practitioners will be subject to either the CMIA or HIPAA is fact dependent, and beyond the scope of this memorandum. Practitioners should be sensitive to the possibility that one or both of the laws may apply to their practice, and seek appropriate counsel.

 VIII. Liability
 While SB-577 allows alternative health practitioners to practice without violating the Medical Practice Act, it specifically does not provide any immunity from liability for civil claims. Thus, a client may sue an alternative health practitioner for monetary damages or other relief based upon negligent acts or omissions, intentional harm, fraud, or under other theories of civil remedies. As discussed earlier, services for which consent is not given could result in a claim of battery, and failure to comply with the specific requirements of SB-577 could subject practitioners to penalties under the Medical Practice Act, including potential felony prosecution if the practitioner puts the client at risk of serious harm.


SAMPLE DISCLOSURE


Health Freedom Legislation

California Senate Bill SB-577



In the following:
X = type of therapy
Y = name of practitioner
Z = number of years practitioner has been in practice


Advertising Disclosure

Include with advertisements for services one of the following:

a)   “Y is not licensed by the State of California as a healing arts practitioner.”

b)   “The X services offered by Y are not licensed by the State of California.”

For example:

a)   “Jane Doe is not licensed by the State of California as a healing arts practitioner.”

b)   “The homeopathic services offered by Jane Doe are not licensed by the State of California.”



Patient Disclosure

Include within your disclosure statement, the following content.  Make sure that the patient signs this statement, that you give the patient one copy (signed), and that you maintain the original for your records for three years.

To:  __________________________
(name of client)

Welcome to my practice.  As you know, I am a practitioner of X.  I am not a licensed physician, nor are X services licensed by the state.  The idea behind X is that:

<A brief and clear description of the theory upon which your services are based.>

As a practitioner of X, I will provide you with the followings kinds of services:

<A brief and clear description of the nature of the services that you will be providing.>


I have been practicing X for Z years.  My training and education is described below:

<A description of your education, training, experience, or any other qualifications that pertain to the services you provide.>

In order to use my services, California state law requires that you acknowledge receipt of the information provided in this form and that you sign it.  You will receive a copy.  I will keep the original in my records for at least three years.

My method of treatment, X, is alternative or complementary to healing arts that are licensed by the State of California.  Under Sections 2053.5 and 2053.6 of California’s Business and Professions Code, I can offer you these services, subject to requirements and restrictions that are described fully on the back of this page.  (You can use the patient information sheet for this purpose.)

If you ever have any concerns about the nature of your treatment, please feel free to discuss them with me.  I recommend that you inform your medical doctor that you are receiving X treatment.



Acknowledgement and Consent to Receive Services:

I have read and understand the above disclosure about the X treatment offered by Y and Y’s training and education.  I have discussed with Y the nature of the services to be provided.  I understand that Y is not a licensed physician and that X services are not licensed by the state.  I understand it is my responsibility to maintain a relationship for myself/my child with a medical doctor.  I have consented to use the services offered by Y, and agree to be personally responsible for the fees of Y in connection with the services provided to me.



Signed:  ___________________________ Date:  _________________________
(client/parent/conservator/guardian)


Indicate capacity to sign if other than client ________________________