Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger Discusses Trends in Medical Board Licensing Cases—“Health Coaching”

People often ask me what sort of trends I see in medical license defense. One of the most common areas revolves around medical professionals acting as “health coaches” in areas that are beyond their licensure. What usually happens is that a person begins to advise beyond their licensed specialty, and they tell themselves that this advice is allowable because it is merely “coaching” and not actually the practice of medicine. As you can imagine, the line between acting within a license and “coaching” patients illegally is blurry, at best, and crossing it can lead to the revocation of your hard-earned license. I routinely see clients accused of practicing medicine without a license and false advertising.

If you are licensed medical professional in Kansas or Missouri facing an investigation, call attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation. Your career is at risk, and you cannot work your way through this alone.

What is the Problem with Health Coaching?

Health coaching is a relatively new and amorphous field that encourages healthy and sustainable living through changes in diet, exercise, outlook, and lifestyle.  It is a field that lives in the margins between other already established professions. It is similar to medicine, nutrition, psychology, and other fields such as massage therapy and physical therapy. The problem is that each of those fields already has a body of knowledge, training, and expertise that is required of its practitioners, and each field requires a license. While health coaching is not illegal, in practice it often drifts into one of these other professions’ areas of control. When that boundary is transgressed, licensure issues arise.

As a medical professional, you know that at the core of the practice of medicine are two actions—diagnosis and treatment. A medical professional can diagnosis or determine a problem and prescribe treatment for that problem, whether it is a medication or a therapy.

As a hypothetical, imagine you have a chiropractic license but are well read about nutrition and have a passion for helping people through their diets. There may be an impulse to start advertising yourself as a “health coach” to begin working with patients who have issues that you cannot treat through chiropractic care alone. While it may be alright to encourage people to eat a balanced diet and to encourage them to avoid unhealthy foods, but when you start telling them what sort of food they should eat to treat a particular physical ailment, you are going beyond coaching and are actually working as a medical doctor or nutritionist. When you begin diagnosing and treating a condition outside of your chiropractic licensure, you are setting yourself up for a complaint that puts your entire license at risk.

How will you know if you are crossing that line? If you are treating a condition, you will likely be reviewing lab tests, looking at genetic data, or prescribing specific treatment based on medical questionnaires or family health history. That sort of review suggests that you are trying to diagnose and treat a problem. If that treatment or diagnosis is in an area outside of your area of licensure, you are risking your license. Similarly, if you are advertising for this sort of treatment and lack the licensure to provide it, you are risking a false or misleading advertising claim.

While a patient may be happy with the “coaching” you have given them, those practicing in the field you have drifted into have a serious incentive to file a claim about you to the applicable Kansas or Missouri licensing board. Those boards are also keenly interested in protecting the sanctity of their fields and are unlikely to give you the benefit of the doubt when you cross into their regulatory area.

Contact an Experienced Kansas and Missouri Licensing Attorney Now

Any medical provider or clinic in Kansas or Missouri contacted by a state licensing board should contact experienced counsel immediately. Your business and license to practice are in jeopardy, and these initial moments are crucial. Trying to be helpful or “playing along” may seem like the easy way to go, but it may not be in your best interest. You have no obligation to speak to anyone without counsel present, and talking to an investigator without counsel may be a fatal error. Contacting an experienced licensing attorney to help you through this process and can mean the difference between getting back to helping your patients and a license suspension or revocation.

If you are a medical professional in Kansas or Missouri and are worried about your license, call attorney Sanger now.

Kansas and Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger is prepared to advocate for your best interests and defend you. Call Attorney Sanger at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney experienced dealing with licensing issues.