In July 2016, the Oregon Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (OAAOM) was made aware that the Oregon Physical Therapy Licensing Board (PTLB) approached the Oregon Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, for an official comment on the topic of dry needling and its place within an Oregon physical therapist’s scope of practice.
The PTLB has argued that the 2014 OAAOM win in the dry needling legal battle against chiropractors does not apply to physical therapists. They consider the dry needling of trigger points to be likely within the scope of practice for physical therapists, but have noted that they will advise their graduates not to perform needling as the PT board continues to monitor the national trends and legislation regarding this issue.
The OAAOM Board of Directors has acted quickly in this matter. In response to the formal request of the Attorney General for an opinion, the OAAOM has taken action to assure the Attorney General’s office can come to a decision based on legal precedent and an unbiased assessment of the similarity between dry needling and acupuncture. The OAAOM is working with a legal team that has experience with dry needling cases and understands the legal loopholes that the PT board may use to push a case forward without addressing the actual medical question.
OAAOM's formal letter to the AG includes the following key points:
1.The statutory definitions of the practice of Physical Therapy medicine do not include the authority for dry needling;
2. The Oregon Court of Appeals decision against Chiropractors utilizing dry needling applies to this dispute;
3. Dry Needling constitutes Acupuncture under Oregon statutes and practitioners performing dry needling are not exempt from the safety/training/licensure requirements of Oregon’s acupuncture laws;
4. Washington and California have recently ruled that dry needling was outside of the scope of practice of Physical Therapists;
5. Acupuncture needles are Class II medical devices regulated by the FDA and there is no statutory support for Physical Therapists to legally possess or use these types of devices.