On Monday, January 25th, 2016 a PA local news station aired a segment that featured a Physical Therapist who is not a Licensed Acupuncturist performing Dry Needling. The APA has crafted a formal response and sent it to WNEP. Here is our letter:
To WNEP16, Ryan Leckey, and the Producer of “Getting to the Point”
I appreciate WNEP’s commitment to the community by producing segments on health and wellness. There are so many options out there for health and wellness information. The community looks to you as an authority figure and are influenced by the health information you provide. I am sure the news segment WNEP16 produces are intended to be in the public’s best interests.
However, the segment “A look at Dry needling” promoted dry needling by a physical therapist. Dry needling is not in the scope of practice of physical therapy in Pennsylvania and the unregulated practice of dry needling is dangerous to the public. The Association for Professional Acupuncture in Pennsylvania would point out that ‘dry needling’ exactly matches the definition of acupuncture per the Pennsylvania Acupuncture practice act. Our concern and the concern of many is that the procedure being labeled ‘dry needling’ is actually just acupuncture rebranded, and it is being practiced while skirting around the educational and safety standards put so carefully into place to assure the citizens of PA receive safe and competent acupuncture. While acupuncture has been shown to be remarkably safe in the hands of properly trained individuals, without such training it involves significant risk. We believe that the retitling of acupuncture as ‘dry needling’ or any other name is confusing to the public, misleading and creates significant endangerment to public welfare. The APA’s stance on dry needling concurs with other national organizations including the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA), the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). These groups have all issued warnings about the inherent danger of PT’s performing dry needling.
The APA strongly urges WNEP to stand behind its reputation for accuracy in reporting and its presumed commitment to the welfare of the people of PA and correct this story. We would suggest either:
Clarify to the public the potential danger inherent in this procedure; explain that this is acupuncture under PA law; clarify that acupuncture is not in the scope of practice of PT’s under PA law, and hence make clear that the procedure ’dry needling’ is not in the scope of practice of physical therapists in Pennsylvania. Also, remove the statement “Dry needling falls under the scope of practice under the American Physical Therapy Association.” as this is false and misleading relative to actual practice in Pennsylvania. A national professional association does not have the authority to determine scope of practice; this is done through the state legislature in conjunction with state regulatory departments.
Remove the whole segment from the website in the interest of public safety.
As the Association for Professional Acupuncture in Pennsylvania we are called to educate the public about the medicine we practice and the services we provide. We would love to connect you with licensed acupuncturists in your area who are having great success helping the community with a variety of health issues including post stroke, fertility, pain and a variety of other diseases and dysfunctions. If ever you are interested in featuring a segment on the; “insertion of needles; to prevent or alleviate pain, normalize physiological functions, for the treatment of certain diseases or dysfunctions of the body”, i.e. practice of Acupuncture, we would appreciate the opportunity to provide our expertise.
I would welcome and appreciate additional dialogue with WNEP about this issue. I would also be more than happy to answer any questions or provide you with additional documentation to advance your knowledge on the topic.
Heather Shultz L.Ac. M.Ac. Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM)
President, Association for Professional Acupuncture in Pennsylvania