Georgia is the first state in the country to legislatively add dry needling to a physical therapist’s scope of practice. We think this was big mistake! Prior to 2011 the Georgia Composite Medical Board became aware that PT’s were practicing dry needling and asked the Georgia Attorney General to look closer at the law. He issued his opinion that it was not in their scope of practice. Despite the AG opinion and concerns in the field the GA Physical Therapy Board successfully lobbied to amend their scope of practice to allow physical therapists to practice dry needling-acupuncture in 2011. The PT Board currently allows physical therapists to practice dry needling-acupuncture with only 50 hours of training. Patients may not realize that many physical therapists learn this technique over a 2 weekend course with little hands on training and no supervised clinical training. Prior to this course these therapists typically have had no training with needling techniques.
In 2016, the GA Physical Therapy Board attempted to further reduce the number of hours in which a PT could begin practicing dry needling acupuncture to just 20 hours – making this only 1 weekend of training (they would then have 12 months to complete the second course to bring them up to 50 hours). This represents a very real and significant danger. As the growing list of dry needling injuries across the country support, when poorly trained physical therapists attempt to practice acupuncture they pose a threat to public safety and the reputation of acupuncture as a safe and effective practice.
As practitioners who have extensive training in needle therapy we are very concerned for the patient safety of Georgia citizens. We believe that Georgia should be strengthening instead of than weakening the already insufficient hours required for physical therapists wishing to perform dry needling acupuncture. We are not alone in this view, as the American Medical Association on June 15, 2016 adopted a policy that stated: “Physical therapists and other non-physicians practicing dry needling should – at a minimum – have standards that are similar to the ones for training, certification and continuing education that exist for acupuncture. “
Similar position papers exist for: The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA), American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R), American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety (AAPAS), Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA).
What You Can Do
If you share our concerns for public health and safety please join us in educating members of the Georgia General Assembly. Contact the senators and representatives in your district to let them know that you think they should follow the AMA’s recommendation to benchmark levels of training for physical therapist dry needling to the already existing national standards for acupuncture training or amend the current law removing dry needling from their scope of practice.
It would be very helpful to contact the representatives and senators below that have medical backgrounds and who serve on their public health and safety committees in Georgia.
- Representative Betty Price, M.D. – email@example.com, 404.656.0202
- Representative Sharon Cooper, RN MSN, Chairman – firstname.lastname@example.org, 770.956.8357
- Senator Renee Unterman, RN, Chairman – email@example.com, 404.463.1368
- Senator Ben Watson, M.D. – firstname.lastname@example.org 404.656.7880
- Senator Chuck Hufstetler, MD, Vice Chairman – email@example.com, 404.656.0034