FOR IMNMDIATE RELEASE Contact: Suzy Griffin
October 15, 2014 (360) 399-6408
Washington Court Injunction Bans Physical Therapists
From Practicing Acupuncture “Dry Needling”:
Colorado-based training company, Kinetacore, is also enjoined from
using needles in dry needling training workshops
Seattle, WA – King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen issued a permanent injunction against physical therapists on Friday finding that they lacked the legal authority to practice “dry needling”, a term used by physical therapists who want to insert acupuncture needles into human tissue without the extensive hours of hands-on supervised training required for Licensed Acupuncturists, now called East Asian Medicine Practitioners (EAMP).
The court’s ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the South Sound Acupuncture Association (“SSAA”) against Kinetacore, which holds “dry needling” workshops around the country. Additional defendants included more than 20 physical therapists who had attended a Kinetacore workshop in October of 2013. The court found that under Washington law, the physical therapy scope of practice does not authorize the insertion of any type of needle, including acupuncture needles, for the purpose of “dry needling”, and their practice of “dry needling” constitutes the unlicensed practice of medicine. The workshop was held at Salmon Bay Physical Therapy’s office in Seattle. Salmon Bay, along with the other defendants, were legally enjoined from continuing to practice dry needling.
Under the ruling, Washington State physical therapists who are outside the group specified in the Injunction, are subject to future legal action for the unauthorized practice of medicine if they perform “dry needling” and do not have a second license that allows the insertion of needles into human tissue. Two groups representing Washington acupuncturists praised the court ruling as an important public health victory and are alerting the public to be aware of any physical therapists that continue to practice “dry needling” after the judge’s ruling.
“This is a major victory for public safety. There’s a reason Washington law requires 500 hours of supervised clinical training before people are allowed to practice acupuncture” says Dan Dingle, a board member of SSAA, an Olympia-based organization that promotes education and patient safety. “When physical therapists take weekend workshops of only 27 hours and then start needling as deep as 4 inches into their patients, it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured in Washington, as they have been elsewhere.“
The Washington East Asian Medicine Association (WEAMA), the state professional organization, applauds the decision. “The Legislature clearly never intended that physical therapists practice acupuncture and they are certainly not qualified to safely do so after just a weekend workshop,” says WEAMA President, Curt Eschels.
In the coming weeks, the SSAA will be seeking information from the Washington State Department of Health regarding the enforcement of the court’s ruling.