There’s been a lot of talk lately of “alternative” medicine and healing: using essential oils or changing your diet, rather than seeking more modern forms of medical treatment to heal what ails you. Some of it is snake oil, but there’s a lot to be said for processes like acupressure, or seeking treatment to help you manage your stress without taking medication.

But just because your medical treatment follows an alternative path, doesn’t mean that your doctor is free from liability if you suffer harm. If you treated with a naturopathic doctor and sustained an injury, you can still sue for damages in a medical malpractice claim.

What is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention and the self-healing process to treat each person holistically and improve health outcomes. Licensed naturopathic doctors must complete a four-year post-graduate medical education which includes extensive coursework and clinical training. Therapies include acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, exercise, and massage. The aim of naturopathic medicine is to treat the body, the mind, and the spirit.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians claim that “Significant research shows that lifestyle-change programs that focus on nutritional interventions, exercise, and emotional well-being can sometimes reverse the progression of chronic disease safely and effectively.”

Naturopathic medical treatment plans focus on other therapies too; such as botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, and counseling to name just a few.

Types of naturopathic medical malpractice

Medical malpractice by a naturopathic doctor (ND) can occur in many ways, including the following:

  • Failure to make a proper referral. Medical malpractice in the naturopathic field of medicine is often due to the failure to understand when other types of doctors need to be consulted to diagnose and treat medical problems. Herbal teas and natural remedies are not considered cures for diseases such as cancer, respiratory illnesses, and heart disease. Naturopathic doctors who fail to recognize when a patient should be sent to an emergency room or a specialist may be liable for the physical and emotional harm they cause, any related medical expenses, and lost wages. If a patient dies due to their medical malpractice, naturopathic doctors can be held accountable in a wrongful death action.
  • Failure to recommend prescriptions. Naturopathic doctors tend to resist prescribing drugs or recommending surgery. Often drugs can treat the symptoms of a disease. Some drugs may even help cure a disease. Failure to prescribe medications when needed can cause death, serious disorders, extensive time to recover, and other complications.
  • Medication errors. Consumer Reports cited one case where the Food and Drug Administration reported recently that “a 30-year-old woman died after receiving an intravenous infusion of curcumin (an ingredient in the spice turmeric) from a naturopathic practitioner to treat eczema, a relatively benign skin condition that’s usually treated with steroids. According to the FDA, medical authorities concluded that the curcumin—which was deemed ineffective by a comprehensive 2017 scientific review—caused her death.”

Some states do allow NDs to order blood tests and X-Rays and write some prescriptions while other states restrict their medical operations.

All doctors, including naturopathic physicians, owe their patients a standard of care which includes competency and acting according to standard medical rules and procedures. If you were injured or a loved one died due to naturopathic mistakes, the Mississippi medical malpractice lawyers at Merkel & Cocke, P.A., have the experience and resources to help you get justice. We work with seasoned medical professionals to analyze whether doctors violated their duty of competent care. To speak with one our attorneys, call us at 662-799-1633 or complete our contact form to make an appointment. We represent patients in Tupelo and the Gulf Coast Region – including Jackson, Clarksdale, and Oxford. We also fight for injured patients and families of deceased victims in Tennessee and Arkansas.