The NCCAOM’s call for comments on the Code of Ethics and Grounds for Professional Discipline ends September 12, 2015 .We owe it to ourselves and our profession to share our thoughts with them.
Here’s what I’ll tell them —
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Code of Ethics and Grounds for Professional Discipline. My significant concerns with these documents can be traced to three overarching issues —
- The NCCAOM credential is required to maintain state licensure for many acupuncturists. You advocate for this arrangement. Yet the current Code of Ethics is more suitable for a voluntary exceptional standard adopted by choice.
- States that require NCCAOM credentials have their own regulatory boards, ethical codes, and disciplinary process. The NCCAOM Grounds for Professional Discipline empowers you to pull a practitioner’s credential, removing them from practice, even when a state board would allow continued practice for the same violation. This turns the NCCAOM into de facto regulators and creates double jeopardy for practitioners.
- The NCCAOM reserves the right to take disciplinary action against any practitioner who violates the Code of Ethics. The Code covers behaviors ranging from serious threats to the public safety to those in the realm of Public Relations. The NCCAOM should explicitly limit the use of disciplinary action to violations that risk the public safety.
A few specific examples —
- “Exceeding the scope of practice as defined by law or certification” is grounds for discipline. Scope is defined by the state, and may not be accurately determined by written language in code or regulation. Since state regulatory boards ultimately rule on whether or not a procedure is within scope, and since that board would determine proper discipline for any violation, no action from the NCCAOM is needed. References to scope should be removed from the NCCAOM document.
- “I will continue to work to promote the highest standards of the profession” is listed in the Code. Must practitioners promote the FPD or DAOM, the addition of herbal exams to licensure requirements, and the expansion of the NCCAOM credential requirement to all states? Who determines the highest standard? This language is coercive at best.
- The Code of Ethics requires credential holders to report peers who violate the Code. It is untenable to expect Diplomates to report every peer in violation of any aspect of this far-reaching code, and it is unfair to wield the power to hold us responsible for any failure to do so.
I support rigorous professional ethics and respect the NCCAOM’s intent to establish high standards for the benefit of our patients and our profession. However, your role for the profession is to validate entry-level competency. Much of the current Code of Ethics and Grounds for Professional Discipline goes far beyond this role. Continued overreach into areas best left to regulators and voluntary affiliations puts at risk the NCCAOM’s position as a credentialing organization.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments,
Elaine Wolf Komarow, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
Those of you who would like more background on the role of the NCCAOM in our profession should look at Part I of this post. I encourage those who are interested in another viewpoint of the NCCAOM and its impact on the profession to review these comments and consider signing this petition.