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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Acupuncturists Needle|Chiropractic Board in Court

AUSTIN (CN) - Acupuncturists sued the Texas chiropractic board, claiming it creates a "significant threat" to public safety by allowing chiropractors to do acupuncture.

The Texas Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine sued the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners and its executive director, Yvette Yarbrough, in Travis County Court.

The needle people claim the back crunchers approved rules that specifically authorize chiropractors to practice acupuncture if they obtain the board's approval.

But the Texas Occupations Code has separate chapters governing the practice of acupuncture and chiropractic.

"Though these rules were ostensibly promulgated in response to legislative amendments, they actually authorize a practice that is well beyond the statutory scope of chiropractic," the 16-page complaint states. "The Chiropractic Chapter expressly limits chiropractic to matters affecting the spine and musculoskeletal system and specifically prohibits the use of needles, with a narrow exception for diagnostic blood draws. Thus, the Chiropractic Board lacked statutory authority to enact these rules allowing chiropractors to use needles and practice acupuncture." The acupuncturists says the Texas Legislature never gave chiropractors an exemption from the statutory ban on needles.

"In fact, the Legislature has repeatedly refused to amend the Chiropractic Chapter to allow chiropractors to practice acupuncture," the complaint states.

"The Chiropractor Board apparently justifies its adoption of the challenged rules by latching onto the definition of acupuncture in the Acupuncture Chapter, which is 'the nonsurgical insertion of an acupuncture needle.' But nothing in the Chiropractor Chapter authorizes the board to import a definition from an entirely different chapter in order to determine - and indeed exceed - its governing chapter's statutory scope." The defendant TBCE requires chiropractors to complete only 100 hours of acupuncture training, while the plaintiff requires at least 1,800 hours of instruction and at least two terms of a resident course of instruction to be licensed. The plaintiff also requires training in bacteriology, meridian and point-locations, hygiene and public health.

"Thus, the Chiropractic Board's unlawful rules create a significant threat to public safety and health because chiropractors lack the education and training to safely perform the procedure of acupuncture," the complaint states. "Further, acupuncturists are economically injured by the disparate training requirements between chiropractors and acupuncturists. As compared to chiropractors, acupuncturists are required to complete significantly more hours - at a much greater cost - in order to practice acupuncture."

Glenn Parker, acting executive director of the TBCE, told Courthouse News the dispute is not a new issue.

"The board has allowed qualified doctors of chiropractic to include acupuncture within their legal scope of practice for many years," Parker said.

Previously known as the Texas Acupuncture Association, the plaintiff was founded in 1989, before acupuncture was legal in Texas, according to its website. It is the largest professional organization of licensed acupuncturists in the state.

It seeks a declaration invalidating the TBCE's acupuncture rules.

It is represented by Craig Enoch with Enoch Kever in Austin.

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