Unlike most states, Indiana dieticians can currently practice without a license. But soon that may change. House Bill 1272 has passed the House and is currently being reviewed by the Indiana Senate. If it passes there it will be the first state-wide framework for dietician standards in Indiana.
The bill would require registered dieticians to file for and maintain a valid dietician license in order to operate within Indiana. Jennifer Wickware, a dietitian and a clinical nutrition manager for an Indiana hospital, cited the bill’s importance in protecting dietitians’ names “so that we are making sure that people are getting the right nutrition information from the experts in nutrition.”
The new license requirement would force practicing dietitians to keep up on the practice through 15 additional hours of continuing education per year, in addition to setting a focus or “scope of practice”. Furthermore, when a dietitian is accused of malpractice there are standards they may be held against, and in the event malpractice has committed, a license may be suspended or revoked.
The current requirement is simply certification, which may be satisfied with a bachelor’s degree, a minimum number of practice hours and having passed the nationwide exam. Only licensed dietitians would be eligible to accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, and nutritionists are not mentioned in the bill whatsoever. Nutritionists generally concentrate on teaching groups how to maximize their benefit from nutrition, whereas dietitians focus on working with individuals on their diet, oftentimes directly planning, and possibly administering, their food.
Currently, formal legal remedies for those who have suffered as a result of a dietitian’s negligence are especially difficult, and it is best to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Professional negligence is the best remedy to pursue against a dietitian in absence of this current bill. Professional negligence forces the injured party to show that the negligent party (i) owed a duty; (ii) that the party breached that duty; (iii) that the breach caused an injury to the plaintiff; and (iv) the plaintiff can show damages. These actions must be filed two years from the time of the negligence, or from the discovery of the injury.
Medical negligence costs the lives of 100,000 individuals every year. The type of damages recoverable are economic damages, including further medical costs or loss of work, for example, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, and damages associated with impairments such as incapacitation, scars, or long-term chronic suffering.
Your health insurance will likely be involved in any injury suffered due to medical negligence. Insurance can be a difficult sea to navigate, however. The insurance company will likely seek reimbursement for your costs and that reimbursement may be through a medical claim or settlement with the negligent party. It is important to seek attorney advice before consenting to any settlement agreement.
The Indiana malpractice lawyers at Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson are dedicated to providing confidential, zealous representations for those who have suffered as a result of medical malpractice. We are experienced at dealing with insurance and possible litigation paths. If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of malpractice, contact us today for your free and confidential consultation by calling (888) 532-7766 or online.
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