Created by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors
| Last updated June 20, 2016
The unauthorized practice of medicine occurs when someone gives medical advice or treatment without a professional license. The prohibition against the unauthorized practice of medicine is a precaution against people who would try to treat others without the proper training, or by using unproven methods which could harm or even kill their supposed patients. As a result, all states make the unauthorized practice of medicine a criminal offense with potentially serious penalties. However, the practice of medicine itself is a slippery term which can be difficult to define.
What is the practice of medicine?
Since states are responsible for providing medical licenses, each state has a slightly different legal definition for the practice of medicine. In general, a person practices medicine when he or she tries to diagnose or cure an