The Florida Board of Physical Therapy has proposed a rule that would authorize certain physical therapists to treat patients using a “dry needling” technique. Acupuncturists have dug in their heels, however, saying PTs’ expanded scope of practice would be improper.

“This is a great opportunity to provide alternatives other than opioids,” says Rob Stanborough, a St. Augustine-based physical therapist who is the only physical therapist in the state who has been authorized by the Board of Physical Therapy to perform the procedure, according to a news story from News Chief.

Acupuncturist David Bibbey notes in the news story that dry needling is acupuncture and that there’s a reason the Legislature doesn’t allow just any healthcare professional to perform the procedure.

“They want to protect the public from the inherent risks of injury,” says Bibbey, who also serves as treasurer of the Florida State Oriental Medical Association, which is in opposition to the proposed rule.

The Board of Acupuncture—also in opposition to the proposed rule, according to the news story—also maintains that the dry-needling proposal would improperly expand the scope of practice for physical therapists.

Florida law includes acupuncture in the practice of physical therapy. But the law makes clear that there can be no penetration of the skin, and that therapists who want to practice acupuncture must comply with rules set by the Florida Board of Medicine.

The Florida Board of Medicine, though, hasn’t passed rules on the issue.

Meanwhile, after giving Stanborough approval to practice, the Florida Board of Physical Therapy moved ahead with a proposed rule that could apply to all physical therapists, the news story continues.

Board members agreed earlier this year on requirements that would allow physical therapists to perform dry-needle techniques so long as they had taken courses recognized by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, the American Physical Therapy Association, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy or any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

But the rule appears to run afoul of the law, said Marjorie Holladay, general counsel of the Legislature’s Joint Administrative Procedures Committee.

She sent a letter to the Board of Physical Therapy noting the proposed dry-needling rule allows therapists to penetrate the skin, which exceeds statutory authority, she states, in the news story.

Holladay’s letter also noted that the Board of Medicine had not set any criteria for the practice of acupuncture.

But attorneys for the statewide physical therapy association argue that that Board of Physical Therapy, and not the Board of Medicine, should be charged with setting the standards for dry needling, the news story concludes.

[Source: News Chief]