3 Common Mistakes that Violate your Standards of Practice.
As naturopathic medicine gains more widespread recognition amongst the pubic as a reputable profession, more and more private businesses are looking to employ naturopaths in various capacities. It is important to note that many of these companies may not be familiar with the regulation surrounding naturopathic medicine or simply don’t care because it is the naturopath, not the company that is held responsible if rules are broken. These companies usually offer some type of health related service (a specific supplement or diet, lab tests, weight loss, etc.) and are looking to add a naturopath to their team.
In this blog I want to cover some of the common misconceptions that I have heard from NDs regarding working for private businesses.
The company would not offer me a position/contract that would break the rules.
It is SOLELY the responsibility of the registered naturopath to comply with the standards of practice; conflict of interest rules; and all other regulations regarding the practice of naturopathic medicine. If these rules are broken it is the naturopath – not the business – that is held responsible and the consequences often include a substantial monetary fine and suspension of your licence. Additionally, you will likely be forced to look for a new position and may have difficulty finding one because of the recent finding against you.
Another naturopath works there and told me it is fine.
Once again, it is your responsibility to make sure the position you are offered complies with the regulations of the BDDT-N/CONO (College of Naturopaths of Ontario). Additionally, some of these positions are also listed by naturopaths in job postings and classifieds specifically for naturopaths. These naturopaths that already work for the company may be violating the regulations unknowingly. In the past year, the BDDT-N has taken disciplinary action against naturopaths found to be in violation of the standards of practice.
My professional opinion is that the product or service the company is offering legitimately helps people, therefore no conflict exists.
There are many factors that determine whether a conflict of interest exists, and even the appearance of a conflict could be problematic and result in a disciplinary action:
Any reasonable appearance of conflict of interest, even if a conflict does not actually exist, needs to be addressed (BDDT-N Guidelines on Conflict of Interest, p. 5)
Other factors include compensation, billing arrangements, and independence of practice. While it is possible to structure many of these relationships in ways that comply with the relevant regulations, it is very easy to make a legal or contractual mistake that can result in running afoul of the rules.
Scrutiny to Increase
Currently, reviews and disciplinary action is only conducted when a complaint is made by a patient. We expect the level of scrutiny to increase substantially as the CONO assumes the role previously filled by the BDDT-N. Additionally, it is likely the CONO may take disciplinary matters more seriously as naturopathy struggles to gain full acceptance from government, the public, and western medicince. From the latest CONO bulletin (Jan 9th 2015):
Each year, the College will randomly select up to 20% of members who hold a General Certificate of Registration to participate in a Peer and Practice Assessment… The assessment will take approximately 3-4 hours, and includes a review of your practice, selected patient charts, and a discussion about the Standards of Practice, policies and guidelines of the College.
Many of the investigations conducted by the BDDT-N have found practitioners that had been unknowingly violating the standards of practice for many years. Under CONO quality assurance regime, these infractions are much more likely to be detected. Are you 100% sure that your practice or position is in compliance with the Standards and Guidelines for NDs? Do you work for or have an affiliation with another business? Have you been offered a position or affiliation agreement? Contact us for a complimentary assessment.
If there is an issue that requires professional service, our fee may be covered by the business rather than the naturopath.