Complementary and alternative medicines and your rights

If you receive complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) outside the health and care services from a treatment provider who is not a healthcare professional, your rights as a patient will be reduced.

Picture of a woman receiving cupping treatment

Illustration: Doug Olson / Mostphotos

What are CAMs?

The term "CAMs" covers the following:

  • Health-related treatment offered outside the health and care services and not provided by an authorised healthcare professional. These treatment providers are required to follow the Alternative Treatment Act (Alternativ behandlingsloven) (in Norwegian), but not the Health Personnel Act (Helsepersonelloven), which restricts your rights as a patient.
  • Health-related treatment offered by the health and care services. In this case, the provisions of the Health Personnel Act apply (in Norwegian).
  • Health-related treatment offered by authorised health personnel outside the health and care services. In this case, the provisions of the Health Personnel Act  apply (in Norwegian).

Health-related treatment means treatment methods which are not usually practised by the health and care services.

Some examples of what are considered to be CAMs in Norway are acupuncture, cupping, aromatherapy, hypnosis, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine.

What are CAM providers permitted to do?

If you receive CAMs outside the health and care services by a treatment provider who is not a health professional, you will not have the same rights as when you receive treatment from the health and care services. For example, there is no requirement for the treatment to be justifiable, which is a requirement within the health and care services.

However, if you receive CAMs outside the health and care services from a healthcare professional, you will have the same rights as a patient receiving healthcare within the health service.

CAM providers are not permitted to offer certain types of treatment:

  • CAM providers are not permitted to perform medical procedures or provide treatment which could potentially seriously endanger the health of the patient.
  • CAM providers are not permitted to treat infectious diseases which could endanger public health or safety, or other serious diseases or disorders. Within these areas, they are permitted to alleviate the symptoms or side effects of treatment, and to provide treatment which strengthens the immune system or the body's ability to heal itself.

CAM providers which provide treatment they are not permitted to provide may be punished.

Anyone engaged in the provision of CAMs is subject to a duty of confidentiality.

Submitting complaints about CAMs

You have the right to complain about a treatment if the CAM provider is enrolled in the Brønnøysund Register Centre’s voluntary register scheme for CAM practitioners (in Norwegian).

All practitioners in this register are affiliated to practitioner organisations. These organisations are obliged to have a scheme in place for dealing with complaints. Complaints should therefore be addressed to the relevant practitioner organisation.

If the CAM provider who has treated you is not registered in this scheme, you will not be able to complain about the treatment.

If the CAM provider is a healthcare professional, the county governor will be the complaints body.

Supervision of CAM providers

​CAM providers are not subject to official supervision, unless they are an authorised healthcare professional or the treatment is provided by the health and care services.