Rhode Island is an Exclusive Scope of Practice State; however, holistic nutrition professionals may work under the unlicensed health care practice law. Rhode Island law provides for the licensure of dietitians and protects the titles of “dietitian” and “nutritionist.” The law states that it shall not limit:
- Any person who does not call him/herself a dietitian/nutritionist from providing nutritional information to customers or any consumer as to the use of food, food products or dietary supplements in connection with the marketing and distribution of those products;
- Any person who provides a weight loss program and/or health maintenance counseling as long as such persons do not engage in nutrition counseling for the management of disease, and do not hold themselves out to be dietitians/nutritionists.
Rhode Island has an unlicensed health care practices law which defines “Unlicensed health care practices” as the broad domain of unlicensed healing methods and treatments, including, but not limited to: (i) acupressure; (ii) Alexander technique; (iii) aroma therapy; (iv) ayurveda; (v) cranial sacral therapy; (vi) crystal therapy; (vii) detoxification practices and therapies; (viii) energetic healing; (ix) rolfing; (x) Gerson therapy and colostrum therapy; (xi) therapeutic touch; (xii) herbology or herbalism; (xiii) polarity therapy; (xiv) homeopathy; (xv) nondiagnostic iridology; (xvi) body work; (xvii) reiki; (xviii) mind-body healing practices; (ixx) naturopathy; and (xx) Qi Gong energy healing. “Unlicensed health care practices” do not include surgery, x-ray radiation, prescribing, administering, or dispensing legend drugs and controlled substances, practices that invade the human body by puncture of the skin, setting fractures, any practice included in the practice of dentistry, the manipulation or adjustment of articulations of joints, or the spine, also known as chiropractic medicine as defined in chapter 30 of title 5, the healing art of acupuncture as defined in chapter 37.2 of title 5, or practices that are permitted under § 5-37-15 or § 5-34-31(6).
It is also important to note that the law defines “Unlicensed health care practices” as NOT INCLUDING “surgery, x-ray radiation, prescribing, administering, or dispensing legend drugs and controlled substances, practices that invade the human body by puncture of the skin, setting fractures, any practice included in the practice of dentistry, the manipulation or adjustment of articulations of joints, or the spine, also known as chiropractic medicine.”
This law “does not apply to, control, prevent, or restrict the practice, service, or activity of lawfully marketing or distributing food products, including dietary, educating customers about those products, or explaining the uses of those products. However, under Rhode Island law, an unlicensed health care practitioner may not provide a medical diagnosis.”
Health Care Client Bill of Rights:
Section 23-74-14 of the law requires:
All unlicensed health care practitioners shall provide to each unlicensed health care client prior to providing treatment a written copy of the unlicensed health care client bill of rights. A copy must also be posted in a prominent location in the office of the unlicensed health care practitioner. Reasonable accommodations shall be made for those clients who cannot read or who have communication impairments and those who do not read or speak English. The unlicensed health care client bill of rights shall include the following:
(1) The name, unlicensed health care title, business address, and telephone number of the unlicensed health care practitioner;
(2) The degrees, training, experience, or other qualifications of the practitioner regarding the unlicensed health care being provided, followed by the following statement in bold print:
“The state of Rhode Island has not adopted any educational and training standards for unlicensed health care practitioners. This statement of credentials is for information purposes only.
Under Rhode Island law, an unlicensed health care practitioner may not provide a medical diagnosis. If a client desires a diagnosis from a licensed physician, chiropractor, or acupuncture practitioner, or services from a physician, chiropractor, nurse, osteopath, physical therapist, dietician, nutritionist, acupuncture practitioner, athletic trainer, or any other type of health care provider, the client may seek such services at any time;”
(3) The name, business address, and telephone number of the practitioner’s supervisor, if any;
(4) Notice that an unlicensed health care client has the right to file a complaint with the practitioner’s supervisor, if any, and the procedure for filing complaints;
(5) The name, address, and telephone number of the department and notice that a client may file complaints with the department;
(6) The practitioner’s fees per unit of service, the practitioner’s method of billing for the fees, the names of any insurance companies that agreed to reimburse the practitioner, or health maintenance organizations with whom the practitioner contracts to provide service, whether the practitioner accepts Medicare, medical assistance, or general assistance medical care, and whether the practitioner is willing to accept partial payment, or to waive payment, and in what circumstances;
(7) A statement that the client has a right to reasonable notice of changes in services or charges;
(8) A brief summary, in plain language, of the theoretical approach used by the practitioner in providing services to clients;
(9) Notice that the client has a right to complete and current information concerning the practitioner’s assessment and recommended service that is to be provided, including the expected duration of the service to be provided;
(10) A statement that clients may expect to be free from verbal, physical, or sexual abuse by the practitioner;
(11) A statement that client records and transactions with the practitioner are confidential, unless release of these records is authorized in writing by the client, or otherwise provided by law;
(12) A statement of the client’s right to be allowed access to records and written information from records in accordance with the provisions of this chapter;
(13) A statement that the client has the right to choose freely among available practitioners and to change practitioners after services have begun, within the limits of health insurance, medical assistance, or other health programs;
(14) A statement that the client has a right to a coordinated transfer when there will be a change in the provider of services;
(15) A statement that the client may refuse services or treatment, unless otherwise provided by law; and
(16) A statement that the client may assert the client’s rights without retaliation.
(b) Acknowledgement by client. Prior to the provision of any service, an unlicensed health care client must sign a written statement attesting that the client has received the unlicensed health care client bill of rights.