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About CAM in Norway

The aim of this article is to provide you with information on the Act that applies to the field of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine)* in Norway.

What is considered CAM in Norway?

“Alternative treatment is understood to mean health-related treatment which is
 practised outside the established health services and which is not practised by
authorised health personnel. However, treatment practised within the scope
of the established health services or by authorised health personnel is also
covered by the term alternative treatment when the methods used are
essentially methods that are used outside the established health services.” (Act No. 64 of 27 June 2003)

*” Alternative treatment” in Norway covers the internationally widely used term CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). For the sake of ease, we will therefore use the term “CAM” on our English pages.

For the Act to apply, a professional relationship between a CAM provider and the patient as his/ her client, has to be recognizable. Payment from patient to the provider for CAM services is one indicator of such a relationship, but not mandatory.

Please note that advice about dietary and lifestyle changes given by a CAM provider, may also be considered CAM.

Patients’ use of products and self-help techniques are also considered to be in the scope of CAM, when their use deviates from standard procedure.

What is not covered by the Norwegian Act on CAM?

  • Advice: There is a lower limit to the scope of the Act, so that the law does not cover «good advice» («kjerringråd») between family, neighbours or acquaintances.
  • Not aiming to cure, relieve or prevent health problems: Services that mainly focus on personal self-development, well-being, beauty care and the like, fall outside the Act and the definition of what is considered CAM in Norway.
  • Faith and Prayer: Ordinary religious activities fall outside the terms of the law, including prayer for the sick and the like. In cases of judgment, this may include whether remuneration is paid, whether the business is marketed and if it is given as cure.

Who may provide CAM in Norway?

Everyone may provide CAM in Norway. No certification or authorization is needed. Hence, there is no official authorization system for those who wish to provide CAM.

Titles are not protected, ie. anyone may call themselves “acupuncturist”, “massage therapist”, “reiki healer” and so forth.

Health personnel are legally obliged to always provide proper care (§ 4 Responsible conduct). Their provision of CAM could be an issue if they advocate CAM over necessary conventional care, or the CAM therapy in question is considered unsafe.

CAM providers in Norway are generally not allowed to provide…

  • Medical intervention or treatment which may entail a serious health hazard (Section 5)
  • Treatment of communicable diseases which are hazardous to public health (Section 6)
  • Treatment of serious diseases and disorders (Section 7)

According to Act No. 64 of 27 June 2003, it is the responsibility of the CAM provider to be aware of the above limitations in these sections, and to act accordingly to them.

Furthermore, CAM providers in Norway cannot claim that their treatments are effective for specific illnesses or disorders, or entitle themselves in ways that give the impression that he or she has an authorization, license or specialist approval under the Health Care Act.

How are patients receiving CAM in Norway legally secured?

If you receive CAM that is not considered an integral part of the total treatment program inside the Norwegian health care system, you are noteligible for compensation or help from the The Norwegian System of Patient Injury Compensation (NPE) in the case of maltreatment or injury.

For all such cases where the CAM treatment is providedoutside the health care system, you most likely have go to a civil lawsuit against the CAM provider to get compensation. Note that insurance for such claims are only required for CAM providers who are listed in The Brønnøysund Register Centre.

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