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ETHICS AND DISCIPLINARY REVIEW

NCCAOM Non-Discrimination Policy

The NCCAOM does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation,
political or religious beliefs, handicap, marital status, national origin, or ancestry.

NCCAOM Code of Ethics

The cornerstone of the NCCAOM’s commitment to ethical business practices and professional conduct is its Code of Ethics. Every NCCAOM Diplomate and applicant pledges to abide by the NCCAOM® Code of Ethics standards and procedures as a condition of NCCAOM certification and certification maintenance.

NCCAOM Diplomates

All practitioners certified by the NCCAOM must be committed to responsible and ethical practice, to the growth of the profession’s role in the broad spectrum of United States healthcare, and to their own professional growth.

NCCAOM Applicants and Candidates

All NCCAOM Candidates must sign the statement of acknowledgement as part of their application for certification, in which they must attest that the information provided on the application and the supporting documents are accurate, true and correct. Candidates agree to abide by the NCCAOM® Code of Ethics and the policies and procedures of the organization, and to release all information pertinent to the application. Candidates also agree to strict confidentiality when it comes to examination security, transmitting information to another person or entity, and the ramifications if found to have done so.

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NCCAOM Updated Code Of Ethics 2022

Disciplinary Action

NCCAOM is continuously raising the standard for the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine by strengthening its professional ethics and disciplinary policies and procedures. The NCCAOM® Code of Ethics serves as guideline for all NCCAOM applicants and Diplomates to ensure that disciplinary standards for certified practitioners are maintained. All applicants and Diplomates must always abide by the NCCAOM® Code of Ethics.

Penalties for violations of the Code of Ethics may include denial of certification, probation, suspension, or revocation of certification. Disciplinary action is taken for various offenses, including cheating, boundary violations, fraud, non-license activity such as negligence and criminal conviction.

NCCAOM® Grounds for Professional Discipline

According to the NCCAOM® Grounds for Professional Discipline, a non-exhaustive list of common types of actions that will subject an NCCAOM applicants and Diplomates to disciplinary action includes:

  • Unethical Behavior
  • Legal and Disciplinary Matters
  • Incompetence
  • Impairment
  • Examination Irregularity

NCCAOM® Procedures for Upholding Professional Conduct

The NCCAOM Professional Ethics and Disciplinary Committee (PEDC) has the authority to investigate disciplinary actions taken against NCCAOM applicants and Diplomates and to impose sanctions on NCCAOM applicants and Diplomates according to the NCCAOM® Procedures for Upholding Professional Conduct. The PEDC meets monthly to review disciplinary cases and disciplinary sanctions can include letter of reprimand, letter of censure, probation, suspension and revocation of certification. It is important to note that NCCAOM exchanges disciplinary actions with state boards and Disciplinary actions are published on the NCCAOM’s website as well as its Find a Practitioner Directory, The Diplomate newsletter and in the electronic e-newsletter Diplomate E-News You Can Use.

NCCAOM® Complaint Procedure

A formal complaint may be filed against NCCAOM Diplomates for violations of professional ethics using the Complaint Form for Professional Ethics Violations available on the NCCAOM website. All complaints must be in writing and signed by the person submitting the complaint. A complaint should also be filed with the state regulatory agency in the jurisdiction where the Diplomate practices. A copy of that complaint also must be sent to the NCCAOM. For a list of state regulatory boards with contact information, please visit State Licensure Requirements . NCCAOM staff will evaluate the complaint to determine if it is spurious, unreliable or outside the purview of the commission. The subject of the complaint will be given the opportunity to provide a full and complete response to the complaint along with submitting any and all documentation that the individual believes is relevant. NCCAOM reserves the right to take disciplinary action against certified practitioners, including but not limited to: ineligibility for certification or recertification; probation pending completion of specified conditions such as monitoring, counseling or remedial education; written reprimand (formal expression of disapproval retained in the Diplomate’s file but not publicly announced); censure (formal expression of disapproval that is publicly announced); suspension of certification for a designated period; or termination/revocation of certification. It is important to remember that all sanctions issued to NCCAOM Diplomates are published, with the exception of a letter of reprimand.

Diplomates Under Disciplinary Action

NCCAOM reserves the right to take disciplinary action against certified practitioners, including but not limited to (i) ineligibility for certification or recertification; (ii) probation pending completion of specified conditions such as monitoring, counseling, or remedial education; (iii) written reprimand (formal expression of disapproval retained in the Diplomate’s file but not publicly announced); (iv) censure (formal expression of disapproval that is publicly announced); (v) suspension of certification for a designated period; or (vi) termination/revocation of certification.

NCCAOM Practitioners on Disciplinary Action

NCCAOM’s Professional Ethics and Disciplinary Committee (PEDC)
Process and Procedures

The mission of the NCCAOM® is to assure the safety and well-being of the public and to advance and advocate for the professional practice of NCCAOM Board-Certified AcupuncturistsTM by promoting established national standards focused on competence and credentialing. In order to fulfill that mission, NCCAOM has been and remains vigilant in its requirements that our community sets and maintains the highest standard possible in their practice. Responsibility for the investigation and adjudication of complaints and disciplinary action procedures is assigned to the NCCAOM Professional Ethics and Disciplinary Committee (PEDC) and its designated NCCAOM staff.

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Q1: What/Who is the PEDC?

The NCCAOM Professional Ethics and Disciplinary Committee (PEDC) has the authority and responsibility to review and investigate misconduct complaints and disciplinary matters against Respondents. When warranted, the PEDC will impose and enforce disciplinary decisions and publish sanctions and/or actions.

The PEDC is composed of no less than five (5) and no more than nine (9) voting members. At least one (1) and no more than two (2) of whom currently serves on the Board; and at least one (1) PEDC member shall be a public member. Non-voting members may also be seated on the PEDC at the discretion of the PEDC Chair.

The PEDC meets regularly via online conference. All meetings pertaining to disciplinary investigations are confidential and held for the purpose of determining, in order:

  1. 1. whether a Respondent has committed a violation in the NCCAOM Ground(s) for Professional Discipline; and, if so,
  2. what sanction(s) and/or action(s) are warranted.

PEDC investigations and meetings allow for the opportunity for written complaints to be heard without restriction in response to any and all allegations, but do not encompass trial-type hearings, witnesses, cross- examinations, live appearance by Respondent or counsel, formal legal rules of evidence or rules of hearsay.

The responsibilities/roles of the PEDC include:

  • Initially evaluating and accepting or rejecting reported disciplinary/ethics issues and complaints;
  • Investigating issues underlying reported disciplinary/ethics issues and complaints;
  • Determining whether the available evidence supports the reported disciplinary/ethics issues and/or complaint; and
  • Decision-making on reported disciplinary/ethics issues and complaints, and implementing appropriate sanctions, if any, in accordance with NCCAOM governing documents.
  • Co-operating with state regulators and disciplinary boards at every step from initiation of investigations to notifications to the public on any actions taken.

Current Members of the PEDC include:

  • Michael Taromina, Esq. – Chair
  • Cathy Goldstein, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®, AP – Vice Chair
  • Janet Borges, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®, Dipl. C.H. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Scott Cormier, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Valerie Hobbs, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Divya Parikh, MPH, CAE
  • Dr. Lisa Sumption, DAOM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Kimberley Woo, MSTOM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.

Q2: What are the PEDC Governing Documents?

    • The NCCAOM® Code of Ethics
      • The cornerstone of NCCAOM’s affirmative commitment to ethical business practices and professional conduct is its Code of Ethics. Every NCCAOM Diplomate, applicant and PDA Provider pledges to abide by the NCCAOM® Code of Ethics aspirational standards as a condition of NCCAOM certification and certification maintenance.
    • The NCCAOM® Procedures for Upholding Professional Conduct
      • This document outlines the process the PEDC must take to review and investigate misconduct complaints and disciplinary matters against Respondents, issue and enforce disciplinary decisions and impose and publish sanctions or actions.
    • The NCCAOM® Grounds for Professional Discipline
      • The Ground for Professional Discipline is a non-exhaustive list of common types of actions that will, if violated, subject NCCAOM applicants, Diplomates and PDA Providers to disciplinary action, including, but not limited to:
        • Unethical Behavior
        • Criminal and Disciplinary Matters
        • Incompetence
        • Negligence
        • Boundary Violations and Confidentiality
        • Impairment
        • Misrepresentation
        • Examination Irregularity

Q3: What/Who does the PEDC have jurisdiction over?

All NCCAOM Candidates sign a statement of acknowledgement as part of their application for certification, in which they attest in writing that the information provided on the application and the supporting documents are accurate, true and correct. This information is verified by staff and may be sent to the PEDC for further investigation and review in cases of a failure to report required items. Candidates also agree to abide by the NCCAOM® Code of Ethics and the policies and procedures and to co-operate with any request for release of information pertinent to the application. In compliance with its responsibilities, the PEDC has the authority to investigate and sanction for disciplinary matters filed against the following Respondents:

    • Diplomates (Active and Inactive)
    • Applicants for examination, certification, or recertification
    • PDA applicants
    • PDA Providers
    • Lapsed Diplomates
    • Former Diplomates who Voluntarily Surrendered certification.

Q4: Examples of behavior warranting a complaint/disciplinary review

The NCCAOM® Grounds for Professional Discipline is a list of certain types of actions and behaviors that will subject NCCAOM applicants and Diplomates to potential disciplinary action. Some examples include:

  • Failing to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation.
  • Withholding information or providing false or deceptive information on an application for NCCAOM certification, recertification, PDA providership or disciplinary investigation.
  • Failing to notify the NCCAOM within thirty (30) calendar days of any of the following:
    • Notice of a disciplinary investigation in any jurisdiction pertaining to a healthcare practice.
    • Any order (including private or confidential) issued by any jurisdiction pertaining to a healthcare practice.
    • Violent felony charges
    • Any felony convictions
    • Misdemeanor criminal convictions related to a healthcare practice.
  • Being convicted of a serious or violent felony
  • Being convicted of a misdemeanor related to a healthcare practice.
  • Being the subject of disciplinary or administrative action taken by a licensing board or health-related regulatory agency or school.
  • Violating NCCAOM policies, regulations or procedures, including but not limited to complying with testing security protocols and continuing education requirements.
  • Misrepresenting professional credentials or titles.
  • Advertising false or misleading information.
  • Exceeding the scope of practice as defined by state or federal statute or regulation.
  • Obtaining or attempting to obtain compensation or reimbursement for services not rendered or via deception or fraud.
  • Failing to maintain proper records as required by state or federal statute or regulation.
  • Performing services without informed consent as required by state or federal statute or regulation.
  • Failing to maintain patient/practitioner confidentiality.
  • Failing to maintain professional boundaries in relationships with patients, or in any way exploiting the practitioner/patient trust.
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a current patient if the contact commences after the practitioner/patient relationship is established.
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a former patient unless a period of six (6) months has elapsed since the date that the professional relationship ended.

Q5: What is the PEDC process?

The NCCAOM® Procedures for Upholding Professional Conduct outlines the process the PEDC undertakes to review and investigate misconduct complaints and disciplinary matters against Respondents, issue and enforce disciplinary decisions and impose and publish sanctions or actions.

  1. The NCCAOM becomes aware of a possible ethics/disciplinary issue/violation
    • The NCCAOM does not limit or restrict the source or manner by which an investigation may be initiated. Written or verbal complaints are typically initiated via the following:
      • Submission of a Complaint Form for Professional Ethics Violation Form
      • A report from a governmental agency or educational institution
      • Self-report via application for certification or recertification
      • NCCAOM staff or Committee research
      • Background checks
      • Pursuant to a self-reporting requirement
  2. The PEDC Chair and staff reviews the information surrounding the possible ethics violation and determines if it has merit, or if is spurious, unreliable or outside the purview of the commission.
  3. If the reported ethics violation has merit, a letter will be sent out to the person/organization responsible for notifying the NCCAOM that the PEDC has begun an investigation.
  4. The subject(s) of the alleged violation will be notified that an investigation has been opened and a request for additional information, if needed, will be issued to appropriate parties. The subject is given 30 days to provide a response including any supporting documentation without limitations.
  5. After the documentation is received and/or the 30-day deadline has passed, the PEDC Chair and staff will review the case including all responses and evidence before presentation to the PEDC.
    NOTE: Failure to co-operate or respond to an investigatory request is a potential separate and/or additional violation of the NCCAOM’s Grounds for Professional Discipline regardless of the whether the underlying matter is ultimately deemed a Grounds violation by the PEDC.
  6. If, after all information and evidence is ripe and reviewed for verification by staff and the Chair, the facts of the matter potentially pose a violation of the NCCAOM’s Grounds for Professional Discipline, then the matter is scheduled for hearing and the file and all evidence are forwarded to the PEDC for their confidential review in advance thereof.
  7. At the meeting, the PEDC will discuss and make a determination on the matter which may include a dismissal, sanction(s) or to remand to staff for further investigation or to request more information or documentation from appropriate parties.
    If the PEDC determines the subject has committed acts and/or engaged in behavior set forth and prohibited in NCCAOM’s Grounds for Professional Discipline, the PEDC may impose one or more sanctions, including but not limited to:

    • Ineligibility for certification or recertification
    • Probation pending completion of specified conditions such as monitoring or counseling
    • Remedial Education
    • Written reprimand (formal expression of disapproval retained in the Diplomate’s file but not publicly announced)
    • Censure (formal expression of disapproval that is publicly announced)
    • Suspension of certification for a designated period
    • Termination/revocation of certification (permanent)
    • Treatment for Substance Abuse
    • Any other conditions, fines, sanctions or actions the PEDC deems appropriate under the circumstances
      NOTE: Sanctions imposed by the PEDC are published, including but not limited to; the NCCAOM’s website as well as its Find a Practitioner Directory, The Diplomate newsletter and in the electronic e-newsletter Diplomate E-News You Can Use. In limited exceptions, sanctions may be issued but remain private and unpublished, such as private letters of reprimand or substance abuse treatments.
  8. The subject (and complainant, if applicable) will be notified of the PEDC’s determinations. If applicable, there is an Appeal Process (page 4) for the subject of the disciplinary action.
  9. NCCAOM exchanges disciplinary actions and information with state licensing boards where the subject of discipline has been sanctioned. This co-operation is mutual.

Q6: How do I submit a complaint?

A formal complaint may be filed against:

  • NCCAOM Diplomates (Active and Inactive)
  • Applicants for examination, certification, or recertification
  • PDA applicants
  • PDA Providers
  • Lapsed Diplomates and/or
  • Former Diplomates who Voluntarily Surrendered certification for violations of professional ethics using the Complaint Form for Professional Ethics Violations available on the NCCAOM website.

All complaints must be in writing and signed by the person submitting the complaint. A complaint should also be filed with the state regulatory agency in the jurisdiction where the Diplomate practices. A copy of that complaint also must be sent to the NCCAOM. For a list of state regulatory boards with contact information, please visit State Licensure Requirements on our website.

Q7: Where can I find a list of practitioners on Disciplinary Alert?

A list of practitioners on Disciplinary Alert is located on the NCCAOM website, in Ethics and Discipline section at: https://pedr.nccaom.org/.

PEDC Committee members

Responsibility for the investigation and adjudication of complaints and disciplinary action procedures is assigned to the NCCAOM Professional Ethics and Disciplinary Committee (PEDC) and its designated NCCAOM staff.

Current Members of the PEDC include:

  • Michael Taromina, Esq. – Chair
  • Cathy Goldstein, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®, AP – Vice Chair
  • Janet Borges, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®, Dipl. C.H. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Scott Cormier, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Valerie Hobbs, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Divya Parikh, MPH, CAE
  • Dr. Lisa Sumption, DAOM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.
  • Kimberley Woo, MSTOM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)®, L.Ac.

Complaint Form for Professional Ethics Violation

Complainant Information

  • Complaint Information

  • Who or what agency/organization do you believe committed this violation?

  • Please attach a clear and concise description of the nature of your complaint (complaint letter), include facts, reports, dates, court documents, legal documents, medical documents and any other documents that will support your complaint:
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf, Max. file size: 128 MB.
    • If not, please file a complaint and attach copy of the complaint report:
      Drop files here or
      Max. file size: 128 MB.
      • AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE

        I understand that signing this authorization is voluntary. I understand that the release of these records and this information is for the purpose of investigation and proceedings involving issues relating to the complaint I have submitted to the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I also consent to the release of these records to the State Board of Acupuncture or other regulatory agency as appropriate for use in an investigation or proceeding against the practitioner who is the subject of my complaint. I further consent to the use of these records in a criminal investigation or proceeding by any law enforcement agency against the practitioner who is the subject of my complaint.

      • I hereby attest that the foregoing information is true to the best of my knowledge and belief, and that I am competent to make these statements.

      • MM slash DD slash YYYY
      • The NCCAOM® Professional Ethics and Disciplinary Committee (PEDC) has the authority to investigate complaints received and to impose sanctions on NCCAOM® Diplomates. Please refer to the NCCAOM® Procedures for Upholding Professional Conduct to understand the process and timeline for evaluating complaints received against NCCAOM® Diplomates.

      • If you have questions about the complaint process, contact NCCAOM’s Professional Ethics Department either by phone (888) 381-1140 or by email at [email protected].

      Diplomates Under Disciplinary Action

      NCCAOM reserves the right to take disciplinary action against certified practitioners, including but not limited to (i) ineligibility for certification or recertification; (ii) probation pending completion of specified conditions such as monitoring, counseling, or remedial education; (iii) written reprimand (formal expression of disapproval retained in the Diplomate’s file but not publicly announced); (iv) censure (formal expression of disapproval that is publicly announced); (v) suspension of certification for a designated period; or (vi) termination/revocation of certification.

      NCCAOM Practitioners on Disciplinary Action