Our healthcare and business law firm works with many providers and other allied health professionals apply for and obtain licensure in Georgia. Holistic medicine has grown in popularity and accessibility, which has led to an increase in functional medicine practices around the country. Relatedly, the practice of naturopathy also appeals to many consumers. The question we are periodically asked is whether Georgia allows naturopathy practitioners to practice naturopathy in Georgia. The post provides a general overview of the answer to that question. If you have questions regarding this blog post or would like to speak with counsel regarding becoming licensed in Georgia, you may contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
1950 Act Repealed in 1956
In 1950, Georgia established legislation allowing for licensing as a “naturopathic practitioner.” However, after only six years, the legislation was repealed. Thus, since 1956, there is no naturopathic license in Georgia. Such practice may still be allowed, unless it is considered to wade into the waters of other licenses, which it is.
Practicing Naturopathy is Considered the Practice of Medicine
In an official opinion in 1981, the Georgia Attorney General’s Office issued an official opinion stating that naturopathy practice falls within the Georgia Medical Practice Act’s definition of “the practice of medicine,” and does not fall within any established exceptions. Consequently, if someone wishes to practice naturopathy in Georgia, that person must obtain a physician license or a license from another board whose scope would allow the use of naturopathic models in the practice. Currently, the definition of “the practice of medicine” is:
[T]o hold oneself out to the public as being engaged in the diagnosis or treatment of disease, defects, or injuries of human beings; or the suggestion, recommendation, or prescribing of any form of treatment for the intended palliation, relief, or cure of any physical, mental, or functional ailment or defect of any person with the intention of receiving therefor, either directly or indirectly, any fee, gift, or compensation whatsoever; or the maintenance of an office for the reception, examination, and treatment of persons suffering from disease, defect, or injury of body or mind; or attaching the title “M.D.,” “Oph.,” “D.,” “Dop.,” “Surgeon,” “Doctor,” “D.O.,” “Doctor of Osteopathy,” “Allopathic Physician,” “Osteopathic Physician,” or “Physician,” either alone or in connection with other words, or any other words or abbreviations to one’s name, indicating that such person is engaged in the treatment or diagnosis of disease, defects, or injuries to human beings, provided that the terms “doctors of medicine,” “doctors of osteopathic medicine,” “doctors of medicine licensed to practice in the state,” and similar terms wherever used or appearing in this article or elsewhere shall mean and include only those persons licensed under this article.
The Penalties for Practicing Medicine Without a License Are Severe
Practicing naturopathic medicine and/or using the title “doctor” without appropriate licensure, can result in significant criminal and civil liability. Under O.C.G.A. § 43-34-42: “a) Any person who practices medicine without complying with this article or who otherwise violates any provision of this article shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of $1,000.00 per each violation or by imprisonment from two to five years, or both.” Because the penalties are severe, if you have any questions whether your actions may violate the Medical Practice Act, we recommend speaking with counsel.
If you have questions regarding this blog post or would like to speak with counsel regarding becoming licensed in Georgia, you may contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, email@example.com. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
*Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice.