The North Carolina Senate is likely voting on a bill this evening which will make the unlicensed and unregistered practice of “medicine or surgery” a felony. The problem is that “medicine or surgery” is unnecessarily vague, and may include some alternative health practices. Please take action immediately!
The bill, S.31 (“To Clarify the Penalty for Unauthorized Practice of Medicine”), would increase penalties for unlicensed medicine or surgery from a misdemeanor to a felony. We looked into North Carolina law to find out more about who would and would not be affected by this bill if it is passed into law.
NC Code § 90-18 (c) states that “The following shall not constitute practicing medicine or surgery” (and therefore would not be affected by this proposed bill). They include, among a number of other practices:
- Domestic or family remedies
- Licensed midwifery
- Licensed chiropractic
- Dietetics or nutritionist practice
- Licensed acupuncture
While these specific exceptions are very good, our concern is that the North Carolina code’s definition of “medicine or surgery” is too broad, especially if the penalty will be increased to a felony. We strongly urge the North Carolina General Assembly to postpone the vote on this bill until they hold additional conversations or hearings clearly identifying who exactly would and would not be affected by this bill if it is passed into law. Would homeopaths be included, for example? What about herbalists?
If you are a citizen of North Carolina, please contact your senators and representative immediately and ask them to postpone the vote. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday evening!
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