Executive Summary

The West Virginia Board of Licensed Dietitians was created by the Legislature in 1996 to protect the public. The title Licensed Dietitian (LD) is bestowed by the Board. The Board consists of five members; four dietitians and one lay member. This is the first Regulatory Board Review on the Board. However, last year a preliminary performance review of the Board was conducted and termination recommended. The Legislature chose to continue the Board for one year. This review identifies two issues, briefly described below.

Issue Area 1: Continued Regulation of the Board of Licensed Dietitians Is Not Necessary For the Public's Interest

Regulation of professions is to be imposed only when necessary for public protection. The review has found no compelling evidence to support continued licensure of this profession because there is low risk of harm if the profession were unregulated. The criteria to be a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a LD do not differ so the West Virginia credential adds no value. Further, the State has no practical disciplinary powers upon the 87% of licensees who are also (RD). Should an RD's LD title be revoked, the individual could continue to practice under his/her RD title. In West Virginia, regulation can be evaded by choosing not to use titles of "dietitian" or "licensed dietitian." The Legislature should consider terminating the Board of Dietitians.

Issue Area 2: Board's Compliance With Applicable Laws and Rules Can Be Improved

The Legislative Auditor finds that the Board of Licensed Dietitians has complied with the following Chapter 30 General Provisions: met annually; maintained a record of proceedings; has set out in rule a sufficient fee structure to carry out its duties; and has attended the State Auditor's orientation session.

The Board's filing of open meeting notices has improved from 48% as reported in last year's review, to 67% during the scope of this review. The Board did publish its telephone number in the Charleston area telephone directory as required but failed to list its address. Proposed rules will be before the Legislature in the 2001 session that will address some of the deficiencies in the Board's continuing education process. The Board has never received a complaint against a licensee, primarily complaints allege possible unlicensed practice. Annual reports, election of officers, the roster and register are either not fulfilling statutory requirements completely or are not being maintained at all.