Report Title:

Health, Medical Freedom Act


Allows unlicensed practitioners of heath-related services to provide services to the public without it being considered the practice of medicine under certain circumstances.


H.B. NO.












SECTION 1. Many state residents seek out health care from unlicensed complementary and alternative health care practitioners, such as those who practice herbology, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reiki, and therapeutic touch. These practitioners may unwittingly be violating Hawaii law prohibiting the unlicensed practice of medicine. Section 453-1 defines the practice of medicine to include "the use of drugs and medicines, water, electricity, hypnotism, or any means or method, or any agent, either tangible or intangible, for the treatment of disease in the human subject[.]" Unless a specific exemption is made by law, no person may practice medicine without a valid license from the board of medical examiners.

The language defining the practice of medicine has been in place since 1896, before a number of the healing modalities used today were invented or in widespread use. A number of alternative and complementary healing modalities used today could conceivably fall within the rubric of the practice of medicine, even though they are not considered by their practitioners, the public, or medical doctors to be the actual practice of medicine.

The purpose of this bill is to allow access for Hawaii residents to practitioners of these unlicensed alternative and complementary healing modalities, as long as they do not provide services that require medical training and credentials. The legislature finds that these nonmedical healing modalities do not pose a known risk to the health and safety of Hawaii residents and that the potential of restricting access to them for fear of a technical violation of state law is not warranted.

SECTION 2. The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new chapter to title 6 to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:


alternative and complementary healing modalities

-1 Findings. A substantial amount of unlicensed alternative and complementary nonmedical healing modalities are being used by state residents. The provision of many of these services may be in technical violation of chapter 453, which contains a broad definition of the practice of medicine. This chapter allows access by Hawaii residents to practitioners of these unlicensed alternative and complementary healing modalities, as long as they do not prove a danger to public health and do not provide services that require medical training and credentials.

-2 Definitions. As used in this chapter:

"Alternative or complementary healing modality" includes homeopathy, herbal therapies, vitamins, relaxation methods, lifestyle diet, imagery, energy healing, and biofeedback.

"Health care professional" has the same meaning as in section 451D-2.

"Practice of medicine" has the same definition as in section 453-1.

"Practitioner" means a person offering an alternative or complementary healing modality who is not a health care professional.

-3 Alternative or complementary healing modality, when not the practice of medicine. A practitioner does not commit the practice of medicine unless the practitioner:

(1) Conducts surgery or any other procedure on another person that punctures the skin or harmfully invades the body;

(2) Administers or prescribes x-ray radiation to another person;

(3) Prescribes or administers legend drugs or controlled substances to another person;

(4) Recommends the discontinuance of legend drugs or controlled substances prescribed by an appropriately licensed practitioner;

(5) Wilfully diagnoses and treats a physical or mental condition of any person under circumstances or conditions that cause or create a risk of great bodily harm, serious physical or mental illness, or death;

(6) Sets fractures;

(7) Treats lacerations or abrasions through electrotherapy; or

(8) Holds out, states, indicates, advertises, or implies to a client or prospective client that the practitioner is a health professional.

-4 Mandatory disclosure. (a) In any advertisement about the practitioner's services, the practitioner shall disclose that the practitioner is not a health care professional, unless the practitioner is otherwise currently licensed as one.

(b) Prior to providing any treatment, services, or products to any person, a practitioner shall provide, in plain language, a written statement to the person that:

(1) The practitioner is not a licensed physician or other health care professional, unless the practitioner has a current valid Hawaii license as such;

(2) That the treatment is an alternative or complementary health service to health care services that are licensed by the State;

(3) That the service to be provided is not licensed by the State;

(4) The nature of the service, product, or treatment to be provided;

(5) The theory of treatment upon which the service is based; and

(6) The practitioner's education, training, experience, or other relevant qualifications.

(c) Before starting treatment, the practitioner shall obtain a written acknowledgment from the person that the person received the disclosure as stated in subsection (b). The person shall receive a copy of the disclosure, and the practitioner shall retain the original disclosure on file for three years.

-5 Scope of the chapter. Nothing in this chapter:

(1) Shall affect the scope of practice of a licensed health care professional; or

(2) Limits the right of the person receiving service by an alternative or complementary healing modality to seek relief for negligence or any other civil remedy against a practitioner."

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.