Yoga instructor accused of practicing medicine without a license.

Dr. Weeks Comment:  This was written in 2005. It is still relevant and YOU need to be concerned because YOU are most likely breaking the law.  

Are you infuriated, as I am, that a yoga instructor was accused of practicing medicine without a license when she instructed someone to do a certain stretch yoga position to get relief from back pain?   Today, if you tell someone to drink coffee or even to stop drinking coffee, either way, you are practicing medicine without a license. 

You were perhaps not aware that you yourself were practicing medicine without a license?  Read the law!

“…RCW 18.71.011   Definition of practice of medicine — A person is practicing medicine if he does one or more of the following:

RCW 18.71.011   Definition of practice of medicine —

A person is practicing medicine if he does one or more of the following:

(1) Offers or undertakes to diagnose, cure, advise or prescribe for any human disease, ailment, injury, infirmity, deformity, pain or other condition, physical or mental, real or imaginary, by any means or instrumentality;

 

 

 

What ever happened to the land of the “free” and the home of the “brave”?

June 2005

Today, the freedom to choose heath care options are being undermined through myriad forces conspiring to limit options, restrict choice and spread dis-information.  In the articles which follow in the days ahead, we will strive to inform you of your choices and to empower you to see clearly before you decide.

Here in the great State of Washington, where innovative and holistic doctors have pioneered freedom in health care, we find the most concerted effort to quash freedom of choice.  My understanding of human nature cautions me to always keep an eye on the money trail because, sadly, right behind fear, the drive for money and power trumps even love and good will all too frequently.

Therefore we will begin with a brief analysis of the troubling situation in the state of Washington:

Memo Summarizing Problematic Department of Health (DOH) Behavior

THE GOOD LAW

Over a decade ago, the Washington State Legislature changed the laws in this state to allow alternative and unconventional medical practices.  The following is the relevant portion of Washington State RCW  18.130.180 (4), which the citizens and legislators inserted in order to guarantee health care choice, “to wit”

“The use of a nontraditional treatment by itself shall not constitute unprofessional conduct, provided that it does not result in injury to a patient or create an unreasonable risk that a patient may be harmed.”

That intent sounds reasonable and indeed this law reflects the spirit of citizens of  Washington State who think that they are entitled to freedom of choice in selecting among a variety of health care options.  (NOTE: Washingtonians LIKE being able to choose whatever type of health care they consider to be in their best interest!)

THE PROBLEM:

However, the Department of  Health (DOH) and the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC) (influenced by financial support by Aetna Insurance company) is generally ignoring the law and persecuting integrative medicine providers solely on the grounds that they practice alternative or integrative medicine.  The MQAC is charged with overseeing standard allopathic (conventional) physicians, physicians that practice integrative medicine, and Naturopathic physicians.  The MQAC, by its own admission, has no expertise in any area outside of standard allopathic medicine.  This creates an ethical and practical problem since the board does not have the expertise to determine what constitutes appropriate professional behavior.

SO WHAT IS HARM?

Given RCW 18.130.010 Section 34, lines 4-7,  tries to keep the patient from being harmed, what exactly is harm?  “The use of a nontraditional treatment by itself shall not constitute unprofessional conduct, provided that it does not result in injury to a patient or create an unreasonable risk that a patient may be harmed.”  Well, the Federation of State Medical Boards in general, and the state of Washington in particular, are concerned with three categories of harm which may result from what they define as  “questionable”  health care practices which include:

 

1)    economic harm which results in monetary loss but represents no health hazard;

2)    indirect harm which results in a delay of “appropriate” (conventional or standard) treatments, and

3)    direct harm which results in inappropriate adverse patient outcome

Note that problem #1, the highest in their list or priorities, is where you spend your money, not whether your wrong leg is cut off (that is #3 above).  This law is being used to try and stop the flood of money you and your friends are spending on alternative doctor. It is an economic issue and not a heath issue and the concern about harm is really relevant to the conventional doctors who are losing income and not to you the patient. At any rate, how insulting that the State (lobbied by the medical associations)  presumes to know how you should best spend your money!  Of course, the term “unreasonable risk” in the law is a hole big enough to drive an ambulance through and a holistic docctor has little defense from this harassment. We have been trying to improve this law for 2 years.

WHO IS PRACTICING MEDICINE?

Furthemore, the MQAC oversees all people who practice medicine in the state of Washington which, (and this may astound you) includes YOU, your GRANDMOTHER and your hypochondriacal UNCLE, your kid’s soccer COACH –  NOT just MDs, DOs, DC’s. NDs, nutritionists, acupuncturists, etc.   The definition, (see below) is excessively broad:

RCW 18.71.011   Definition of practice of medicine —

A person is practicing medicine if he does one or more of the following:

(1) Offers or undertakes to diagnose, cure, advise or prescribe for any human disease, ailment, injury, infirmity, deformity, pain or other condition, physical or mental, real or imaginary, by any means or instrumentality;


(2) Administers or prescribes drugs or medicinal preparations to be used by any other person;

(3) Severs or penetrates the tissues of human beings;

(4) Uses on cards, books, papers, signs or other written or printed means of giving information to the public, in the conduct of any occupation or profession pertaining to the diagnosis or treatment of human disease or conditions the designation “doctor of medicine”, “physician”, “surgeon”, “m.d.” or any combination thereof unless such designation additionally contains the description of another branch of the healing arts for which a person has a license: Provided however, that a person licensed under this chapter shall not engage in the practice of chiropractic as defined in RCW 18.25.005.

To review, one is practicing medicine in the state of Washington and are subject to fines or imprisonment if one

     (1) Offers or undertakes to diagnose, cure, advise or prescribe for any human disease, ailment, injury, infirmity, deformity, pain or other condition, physical or mental, real or imaginary, by any means or instrumentality;

Consider the implications of this language!  Your Mother warns: “put some sunscreen on to prevent skin cancer” .  Your Grandma suggests:  “You seem tired. Take a nap”.  You the  Dad and soccer coach advises:  “Put some ice on that swollen ankle”. Your sister offers: “You need a band-aid for that cut.”  And your friend suggests that you:  “Drink some water to re-hydrated in this heat.”  All these people are performing illegal services, unless they are licensed to practice medicine.

SOLUTION                                                                                                           

Americans are in the habit of having freedom to choose. Today that freedom is being restricted along with many other freedoms we have taken for granted and not guarded.

Patients of mine are now in the habit of calling their elected representatives and insisting that they enforce the current law for choice in health care and stridently correct the unethical and unpopular actions of MQAC and the Department of Health.

 

Please consider sending a financial contribution to help me fight to maintain the right to offer you choice in health care. Make the check out to “OMSJ”  for the Dr. Weeks Legal Defense Fund  and send it to  PO Box 740 Clinton WA 98236

Be informed. Stay free.  Be Brave.

Bradford S. Weeks, M.D.

 

 

 

 

 

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