Audit reveals unresolved complaints against Arizona naturopathic practitioners

Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 2:17pm
Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 2:44pm

A newly released state audit reveals shortcomings with the board that regulates naturopathic medicine in Arizona.

The State of Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board issues licenses and certificates, resolves complaints and provides public information involving more than 2,200 practitioners. Naturopathic medicine often focused on drugless and nonsurgical methods.

Auditors from the Arizona Auditor General’s Office reviewed all 27 complaints received in 2021 and found the board did not resolve 11 complaints within 180 days and one complaint remained unresolved after 500 days. Auditors also placed three anonymous phone calls requesting information on licensed physicians and reported only one call was returned within 24 hours.

The audit said:

“Because Board staff did not answer or return our other 2 anonymous calls, we were unable to request, and the Board did not provide, public information about licensees over the phone as required by statute and the Board’s policies and procedures.”

Key findings of the board:

  • Was established in 1935 to regulate the practice of naturopathic medicine in Arizona.
  • Ensured that all 27 initial naturopathic physician licenses and 22 certificates to dispense natural substances, drugs and devices we reviewed generally met statute and rule requirements and were issued within required time frames.
  • Did not resolve 11 of 27 complaints we reviewed within 180 days — taking between 182 and 476 days to resolve 10 of these complaints, with one complaint open for more than 500 days and still pending as of February 2022.
  • Did not respond to two of three anonymous phone calls we made and had not removed some disciplinary actions older than five years from its website, as required by statute, but did so during the audit.
  • Did not perform statutorily required inspections of naturopathic physicians’ dispensing and prescribing practices, training programs, and continuing education programs.
  • Complied with the open meeting law requirements we reviewed for the 4 monthly meetings the Board held between May and August 2021.
  • Requires naturopathic medical students to obtain a certificate and pay a fee for engaging in the clinical training part of their education, unlike other Arizona health regulatory boards and naturopathic regulatory boards in other states.

The audit contains 13 recommendations, which the board says it will implement.

The governor appoints seven  members to serve five-year terms on the board and the Legislature funded two full-time equivalent staff positions last year. As of April 2022, the board had a full-time executive director and a part-time administrative assistant. Board revenues come primarily through licensing and related fees.

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