Act No. 64 of 27 June 2003 came into effect January 1st 2004, replacing an old law. The reasons behind this new law was, among other things, that the use and prevalence of CAM (alternative treatment in Norwegian) had increased, and that the government wanted a more modern regulation of the field.
The purpose of the law is "to contribute to safety for patients who seek or receive alternative treatment and to regulate the right to practise such treatment". The premise for the law is that everyone who wants to, can treat sickness or disease. Further, everyone can call themselves "acupuncturist", "healer" or use any other CAM practitioner titles. One main feature of the law is that CAM providers without any connections to the health services have quite fewer leagl obligations than those have this connection.
This entails that patients to a lesser degree are legally secured when treated by a CAM provider without health education, or if the CAM provider works outside the health service. The law still provides clear limitations when it comes to:
- treating serious or infectious diseases
- what kind of interventions CAM providers can perform
- use of titles
- marketing and information
The law on alternative treatment has it's own penalty provisions if the CAM provider's activity goes beyond the law. However, there is not a separate body for complaints regarding CAM. If the CAM provider is a member of a practitioner association, one can turn to them for more information on the ability to complain about the treatment.
In addition, the law contains a a regulatory framework for a registry of CAM providers, described on the website for the Register for alternative therapists. This registry does not provide any guarantees for the safety, quality or efficacy of the different therapies/practitioners, but is supposed to contribute to patient safety through business conditions.
The Health Personnel Act and the Patients’ Rights Act
If health personnel provides CAM to a patient, The Health Personnel Act puts forward a set of requirements for the therapist. The law demands that they must have sufficient competence for the use of the therapy, and the method must in it self be sound. Health personnel must stick to recognized and proven methods (§4). The Act further provides a set of other requirements for health personnel's professional practice.
- a duty of disclosure
- duty to report
- documentation requirements, and terms of authorization
- requirements for the organization of business
- requrements for authorization, and
- a duty of confidentiality
The Patients' Rights Act specifies the individual patient's rights towards health personnel and health services. This presupposes that the CAM provider is health personnel, that there being a relationship of treatment where where health care is provided, and that the injury has occurred within the health care system. I some cases it will then be a possibility for compensation through NPE. Read more abut this in our article About CAM in Norway.
It is however important to remember that there is a minority of CAM providers in Norway who also are health personnel, and that there different titles and registration in the Register for alternative therapists does not imply the same responsibilities as health personnel.
If you have complaints about CAM provided by health personnel we reccomend that you contact the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision.
Guidelines for CAM practitioners in Norway
The Norwegian Consumer Authority’s guidelines for the marketing of traditional and complementary medicine provides you as a practitioner of CAM the knowledge you need about boundaries for marketing of your services.