DENVER (CBS4) – A woman whose son died while being treated by a phony doctor is taking her fight for change to the legislature.
Sean Flanagan sought treatment for cancer 8 years ago and died after a doctor who labeled himself a “naturopath” removed his blood, injected it with hydrogen peroxide, and re-infused it. The doctor went to prison. Now Sean’s mother, Laura Flanagan, wants the naturopath industry regulated.
The bill would require a naturopathic doctor, or N.D., to have a degree from a 4-year accredited naturopathic school, have 1,200 hours of training, and liability insurance. The bill also limits what N.D.s can do and sets up a complaint and discipline procedure.
It is a hugely controversial bill that was debated for hours on Tuesday and has yet to be decided.
Every year Laura Flanagan relives the nightmare as she lobbies lawmakers to regulate and license the profession.
“It gets harder because we keep coming back,” Flanagan said.
This year she has hope. Physicians groups aren’t fighting the bill, but there are others. At the hearing it was standing room only. Lawmakers said they’d received hundreds of e-mails from people like Charles Nixon. He argues the bill creates a monopoly by only licensing those who complete training accredited by the council on naturopathic medical education.
“Why is it only graduates from six universities outside of Colorado that belong to a (Council on Naturopathic Medical Education) can sit for the licensing exam?” Nixon asked lawmakers.
Nixon says the bill will put many practitioners out of business. Naturopathic Dr. Mark Cooper disagrees.
“I don’t want to take away someone’s ability help another human being in Colorado, that’s not what this bill is about,” Cooper said. “What I do want to do is make sure people know that you should not profess to be a doctor when you don’t have formal U.S. Department of Education credential to say you’re a doctor.”
It’s information Flannigan wishes her son had.
“I have to be his voice. I have to be here for Sean because he died at hands of man claiming to be a doctor,” she said.
While the bill increases regulatory costs for the state, those would be paid by provider fees.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Riesberg, argued that other professions are licensed and licensing someone who calls themselves a doctor only makes sense.