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Can You Sue a 'Naturopathic Doctor'?

By Jeffrey Yano, Esq. on February 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Mario Rodriguez was a twenty-one year old physics student in Spain. So when he was diagnosed with leukemia, he did what you might not expect him to do. He spent €4,000 on alternative medicines and shunned a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy. He later died of an intestinal infection, and his father sued the naturopathic doctor who prescribed his treatment. Can this sort of lawsuit happen in the U.S.?

What Is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine, according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, "focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnoses and treatment." It's alternative medicine that emphasizes herbal supplements, boosting the natural immune systems, and other not-exactly-mainstream treatments in place of more traditional medicine.

State regulation of the naturopathic profession is limited to eighteen states, according to the American Medical Profession (they're not a fan). And scientific support for their methods can be suspect, as can be coverage from health insurance plans.

Naturopathic Doctors and Medical Doctors

As you might imagine, naturopathy is controversial in the health care field. Many Naturopathic practitioners receive four-year degrees and are licensed, but many naturopath practitioners are not. Training can differ considerably from place to place and person to person, as can their treatment plans.

That said, many people swear by naturopathic treatments. They remain a semi-popular alternative to traditional medicine.

Suing Naturopathic Doctors

Medical practitioners are responsible for providing sound care to patients. When they fall short, whether through negligence or otherwise, a medical malpractice lawsuit can result. And the same is true with naturopathic doctors.

Fraud cases might be brought against naturopathic treatment providers, and, generally, juries are less sympathetic to naturopaths than medical doctors when things go wrong.

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