In order to avoid treatment by non-qualified TM/CAM practitioners and malpractice, it is important that the consumer knows how to identify a qualified practitioner. In countries where the level of education and/or knowledge is controlled by statutory or voluntary regulations, a TM/CAM practitioner should generally have fulfilled these requirements in order to be considered qualified. One way of certifying a qualified TM/CAM practitioner’s continuous ‘good practice’ is to register all qualified providers and to enforce a system where patients can report malpractice (32). Repeated or serious malpractice could lead to the withdrawal of the registration certificate. However, such a system of quality assurance relies on consumer awareness and responsibility since reports on incidents of malpractice come mainly from consumers themselves. Therefore, information must be available on where cases of malpractice can be reported (see section 3.2.2).
Qualified/registered TM/CAM practitioners can also be identified through a system of easily recognizable certificates displayed at the practice. Such certificates could be issued by the national authorities or by self-regulating professional organizations and designed in a way so that they can be easily recognized. Moreover, lists of qualified/registered TM/CAM practitioners available to the public could be updated periodically and published in an easily accessible format in print or on the Internet and made available through a TM/CAM information centre, local authorities, consumer organizations and professional organizations, for example.
In the absence of adequate regulations, some TM/CAM practitioners may not adhere to adequate standards of clinical practice, with obvious implications for safety. One way to eliminate such concerns is to train, regulate and register all practitioners who employ TM/CAM and encourage consumers to seek treatment from competent practitioners who provide high quality services (17). Moreover, TM/CAM practitioners should preferably be educated in the general principles of conventional medicine in order to refer patients to conventional practitioners when appropriate. Another way to encourage good clinical practice is to help strengthen and increase the organization of TM/CAM practitioners. This helps facilitate the use of voluntary control mechanisms and contributes to increased professionalism among TM/CAM practitioners.