Short Title: Naturopathic Physicians.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. Chapter 90 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Article to read:
"§ 90-680. Short title.
This act may be cited as the 'North Carolina Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Act'.
"§ 90-681. Intent; purpose.
(a) The General Assembly finds that a significant number of residents of the State of North Carolina choose natural health care and declares that naturopathy is a distinct health care profession that affects the public health, safety, and welfare and provides for freedom of choice in health care.
(b) The purpose of this act is to provide standards for the licensure and regulation of naturopathic physicians desiring to practice naturopathy in this State.
"§ 90-682. Definitions.
The following definitions apply in this Article:
(1) Approved naturopathic program. - A program of naturopathy approved by the Board as described in G.S.90-687(a)(3).
(2) Board. - The State Board of Naturopathy Examiners.
(3) License. - A certificate issued by the Board recognizing the person named therein as having met the qualifications to provide naturopathic remedies as defined in this Article.
(4) Naturopathic physician. - A person licensed to practice naturopathic remedies pursuant to this Article.
(5) Naturopathic remedies. - A comprehensive system of health care practiced by a naturopathic physician for the prevention and treatment of human health conditions that uses education and natural remedies and therapies to support and stimulate an individual's intrinsic self-healing processes.
"§ 90-683. License required; exemptions.
(a) No person shall practice or offer to practice as a naturopathic physician, perform activities of a naturopathic physician, or use any card, title, or abbreviation, including 'Naturopathic Physician', 'Doctor of Naturopathy', or 'N.D.', to indicate that the person is a naturopathic physician unless the person has been licensed under the provisions of this Article.
(b) Nothing in this Article shall be construed to prohibit or affect:
(1) The practice of a profession by an individual who is licensed, certified, or registered under other laws of this State and is performing services within the authorized scope of practice.
(2) The practice of naturopathy by a person employed by the federal government while the person is engaged in the performance of duties prescribed by laws and regulations of the United States.
(3) An individual rendering aid in an emergency situation, when no fee or other compensation for the service is received.
(4) A person engaged in the sale of vitamins, health foods, dietary supplements, herbs, or other products of nature, if the sale of these products is not otherwise prohibited by State or federal law and the person offering the products provides truthful and nonmisleading information about the products. However, this subdivision does not allow a person to diagnose any human disease, ailment, injury, infirmity, deformity, pain, or other condition.
(5) A person, who in good faith, offers naturopathic services for religious reasons.
(6) The practice of naturopathy by a naturopathic physician duly licensed in another state, territory, or the District of Columbia when incidentally called into this State to consult with a licensed physician.
(7) The practice of naturopathy by students enrolled in an approved naturopathic program as described in G.S. 90-687(a)(3) while completing a clinical requirement for graduation that is performed under the supervision of an instructor.
"§ 90-684. Practice of naturopathy; responsibilities; prohibitions.
(a) A naturopathic physician is a licensed health care provider having the same responsibilities as other licensed doctors regarding public health laws, reportable diseases and conditions, communicable disease control and prevention, and recording vital statistics. In treating an individual using naturopathic remedies, a naturopathic physician may:
(1) Use physical assessment and laboratory reports, including phlebotomy, clinical laboratory tests, speculum examinations, and physiological function tests.
(2) Order imaging tests consistent with naturopathic training, including ultrasound, Xray, and electrocardiogram reports.
(3) Administer natural remedies derived from or substantially similar in molecular structure or function to natural sources for preventive and therapeutic purposes, including food, extracts of food, nutraceuticals, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, botanicals and their extracts, homeopathic remedies prepared according to the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, and all dietary supplements and nonprescription drugs as defined by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C.A. § 301, et seq.
(4) Administer natural remedies and therapies consistent with training provided by a Board-approved naturopathic college.
(5) Administer for preventive or therapeutic purposes, lifestyle counseling, biofeedback, dietary therapy, nutritional counseling, natural remedies and therapies consistent with training provided by a Board-approved naturopathic college for the purpose of restoring normal physiological function by normalizing and balancing the body.
(b) A naturopathic physician shall not:
(1) Prescribe, dispense, or administer any controlled substance or device identified in the Controlled Substance Act, 21 U.S.C.A. § 801, et seq., except as authorized by this Article.
(2) Perform surgical procedures, including procedures using a laser device.
(3) Practice or attempt to practice as a medical physician, osteopath, dentist, podiatrist, optometrist, chiropractor, or any other system or method of treatment not authorized by this Article unless licensed by this State to do so.
(4) Use anesthetics unless licensed by this State to do so.
"§ 90-685. North Carolina Board of Naturopathy Examiners.
(a) The State Board of Naturopathy Examiners is created. The Board shall consist of seven members who shall serve staggered terms. The Governor shall appoint all members of the Board and each member shall have been a resident of this State for the three years immediately preceding the appointment. The initial Board members shall be appointed on or before January 1, 2002, as follows:
(1) Four members shall be naturopathic physicians who have been licensed under this Article, two of whom shall serve terms of four years and two of whom shall serve terms of two years.
(2) One member shall be a physician licensed pursuant to Article 1 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes, who shall serve a term of four years.
(3) One member shall be a pharmacist licensed pursuant to Article 4A of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes, who shall serve a term of four years.
(4) One member shall be a member of the general public who shall not be licensed under Chapter 90 of the General Statutes or the spouse of a person who is so licensed and shall serve a term of four years.
Upon the expiration of the terms of the initial Board members, each member shall be appointed for a term of four years and shall serve until a successor is appointed. No member may serve more than two consecutive terms.
(b) A vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. Appointees to fill vacancies shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term and until their successors have been duly appointed and qualified.
(c) The Board may remove any of its members for neglect of duty, incompetence, or unprofessional conduct. A member subject to disciplinary proceedings as a licensee shall be disqualified from participating in the official business of the Board until the charges have been resolved.
(d) Each member of the Board shall receive per diem and reimbursement for travel and subsistence as provided in G.S. 93B-5.
(e) The officers of the Board shall be a chair, a vice-chair, and other officers deemed necessary by the Board to carry out the purposes of this Article. All officers shall be elected annually by the Board for one-year terms and shall serve until their successors are elected and qualified.
(f) The Board shall hold at least two meetings each year to conduct business and to review the standards and rules for issuing licenses under this Article. The Board shall adopt rules governing the calling, holding, and conducting of regular and special meetings. A majority of Board members shall constitute a quorum.
"§ 90-686. Powers of the Board.
The Board shall have the power and duty to:
(1) Administer and enforce the provisions of this Article.
(2) Adopt rules as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Article.
(3) Examine and determine the qualifications and fitness of applicants for licensure and renewal of licensure.
(4) Issue, renew, deny, suspend, or revoke licenses and conduct any disciplinary actions authorized by this Article.
(5) Set fees for licensure, licensure renewal, and other services deemed necessary to carry out the provisions of this Article.
(6) Establish and approve continuing education requirements for persons licensed under this Article.
(7) Receive and investigate complaints from members of the public.
(8) Conduct investigations for the purpose of determining whether violations of this Article or grounds for disciplining licensees exist.
(9) Conduct administrative hearings in accordance with Article 3A of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes.
(10) Maintain a record of all proceedings conducted by the Board and make available to licensees and other concerned parties an annual report of all Board action.
(11) Maintain a list of the names and addresses of all persons licensed by the Board.
(12) Employ and fix the compensation of personnel that the Board determines is necessary to carry out the provisions of this Article and incur other expenses necessary to perform the duties of the Board.
(13) Adopt a seal containing the name of the Board for use on all licenses and official reports issued by the Board.
"§ 90-687. Qualifications for licensure; examinations; issuance.
(a) Upon application to the Board and the payment of the required fees, an applicant may be licensed under this Article as a naturopathic physician if the applicant meets all of the following qualifications:
(1) Is of good moral and ethical character.
(2) Is at least 18 years of age.
(3) Has graduated from an approved naturopathic program. For purposes of this section, an 'approved naturopathic program' means:
a. A college or university granting the degree of Doctor of Naturopathy and that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the State or federal government.
b. A college or university granting the degree of Doctor of Naturopathy that is a candidate for accreditation with an accrediting agency recognized by the State or federal government.
c. A postgraduate program granting a degree of healing arts approved by the Board and a State or federal accrediting agency. The college or university offering the postgraduate degree shall require a minimum of 60 semester units for admission and provide a minimum of 4,000 credit hours in basic and clinical sciences, naturopathic philosophy, naturopathic modalities, and naturopathic remedies of which not less than 2,000 hours shall be in academic instruction and 2,000 hours in college-approved supervised clinical training.
(4) Submits any other documentation the Board deems necessary to determine the applicant's fitness for licensure under this Article.
(b) If the application is satisfactory to the Board, the applicant may be required to pass an examination administered by the Board or a national organization. For examinations offered by the Board, the Board shall establish the scope and subject matter of the examination, and examinations shall be offered at least twice a year at a time and place to be determined by the Board. An applicant who fails an examination shall be reexamined pursuant to rules adopted by the Board.
(c) When the Board determines that the applicant has met all the qualifications for licensure and has submitted the required fee, the Board shall issue a license to the applicant.
"§ 90-688. Reciprocity; licensure of nonresident.
(a) The Board may grant, upon application and payment of proper fees, a license to a person who resides in this State and has been licensed to practice as a naturopathic physician in another state whose standards of competency are substantially equivalent to those provided in this Article.
(b) The Board may grant, upon application and payment of proper fees, a license to a nonresident if the person meets the requirements of this Article or the person resides in a state that recognizes licenses issued by the Board.
"§ 90-689. Fees.
The Board shall establish fees not exceeding the following amounts:
(1) Issuance of a license $600.00
(2) License renewal $400.00
(3) Late renewal fees $200.00
(4) Reasonable charges for duplication services and material.
"§ 90-690. Renewal.
All licenses shall expire one year after the date they were issued unless renewed. All applications for renewal shall be filed with the Board and shall be accompanied by the renewal fee as required by G.S. 90-689. A license that has expired for failure to renew may be reinstated after the applicant pays the late and renewal fees as required by G.S. 90-689, and complies with any other requirements established in rules adopted by the Board.
"§ 90-691. Continuing education; exemption; approval of programs.
(a) As a condition of license renewal, a licensee shall complete at least 20 credits of continuing education within the 12 months immediately preceding license renewal. At least five of the 20 continuing education credits shall be in naturopathic pharmacology for naturopathic physicians qualified to prescribe treatment pursuant to the naturopathic formulary.
(b) The Board may exempt from the requirements of subsection (a) of this section any person holding a license under this Article if the person presents evidence satisfactory to the Board that he or she is unable to comply with the continuing education requirements. However, no person shall be exempted from the requirements of subsection (a) of this section more than once in a five-year period unless the person shows proof to the Board that he or she is engaged in prolonged religious, military, or humanitarian service.
(c) The Board shall approve programs offering continuing education in naturopathic remedies. Any person seeking approval of a program of continuing education in naturopathic remedies shall submit to the Board copies of the courses of study to be offered and proof of any other qualifications the Board deems necessary in approving the program. Courses offered in continuing education programs shall consist of new, review, experimental, research, and specialty subjects in the field of naturopathic remedies. Approval granted to any program of continuing education shall be reviewed periodically and may be withdrawn from any program failing to meet requirements established by the Board.
"§ 90-692. Disciplinary authority.
(a) The Board may deny, suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue or renew a license if the licensee or applicant:
(1) Engages in any act or practice in violation of any of the provisions of this Article or of any of the rules adopted by the Board, or aids, abets, or assists any other person in the violation of these provisions or rules.
(2) Gives false information to or withholds information from the Board in procuring or attempting to procure a license.
(3) Has been convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to a crime that indicates that the person is unfit or incompetent to practice as a naturopathic physician or that indicates the person has deceived or defrauded the public.
(4) Has been declared mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(5) Habitually uses or is addicted to drugs or intoxicating liquors to an extent that affects his or her professional competency.
(6) Has demonstrated gross negligence, incompetency, or misconduct in the performance of naturopathic treatment.
(7) Fails to maintain his or her professional premises in a sanitary condition.
(8) Has willfully violated any of the provisions of this Article.
(b) The Board shall not refuse to grant a license or find a licensee professionally incompetent solely on the basis that the licensee's practice is unconventional or experimental absent a showing of harm to a patient, if prior to treatment the licensee obtains a signed waiver from the patient acknowledging that the treatment is unconventional or experimental.
"§ 90-693. Enforcement; injunctive relief.
(a) It is unlawful for a person not licensed or exempted under this Article to engage in any of the following:
(1) Practice of naturopathic remedies.
(2) Advertise, represent, or hold out himself or herself to others to be a naturopathic physician.
(3) Use any title descriptive of any branch of naturopathy, as provided in G.S. 90-683(a), to describe his or her practice.
(b) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(c) The Board may make application to superior court for an order enjoining a violation of this Article. Upon a showing by the Board that a person has violated or is about to violate this Article, the court may grant an injunction, restraining order, or take other appropriate action.
A person who has reasonable cause to suspect misconduct or incapacity of a licensee, or who has reasonable cause to suspect that a person is in violation of this Article, shall report the relevant facts to the Board. Upon receipt of a charge, or upon its own initiative, the Board may give notice of an administrative hearing or may, after diligent investigation, dismiss unfounded charges. A person who, in good faith, makes a report pursuant to this section shall be immune from any criminal prosecution or civil liability resulting therefrom."
SECTION 2. Any person who submits proof to the Board that he or she has been a resident in this State for three consecutive years prior to the effective date of this act, has graduated from an approved naturopathic program as described in G.S. 90-687(a)(3), enacted by Section 1 of this act, and pays the required fee for issuance of a license under G.S. 90-689, enacted by Section 1 of this act, shall be licensed without having to satisfy the requirements of G.S. 90-687, enacted by Section 1 of this act. All persons who do not make application to the Board within one year of the effective date of this act shall be required to complete all requirements prescribed by the Board and to otherwise comply with provisions of Article 40 of Chapter 90, enacted by Section 1 of this act.
SECTION 3. This act becomes effective October 1, 2001.