AAAOM Call for Comments

Not sure who out there gets communications from the AAAOM, or who pays attention to the communications they do get.  Despite the low of level of support the organization has from acupuncturists (the last I heard was that the organization has about 500 professional members, which would be less than 3% of the profession), it has an outsized impact on the profession’s reputation, our relationship with other providers, and public policy itself.  Therefore, it would be foolish to ignore their call for comments.  First I’ll address the introductory email, which is concerning in and of itself.  Comments on the position statement itself will follow soon.  Here is the email, with my comments inserted.

“Dear AAAOM Members and Colleagues:
We would like to hear from you, our membership, via this “Call for Comments” surrounding the term “trigger point dry needling (TPDN).” Please take a few moments to review this AAAOM position paper, “AAAOM Position Statement on Trigger Point Dry Needling and Intramuscular Manual Therapy.”

As many of you may already know, physical therapy (PT) boards have begun using TPDN terms for the purpose of expanding the PT scope of practice. [How does the AAAOM know the purpose for the choice of the term?  Perhaps the purpose was to help patients distinguish between the release of a trigger point and the practice of a complete medicine? Does the AAAOM believe professions should not be able to expand their scope?] By doing so, this therefore precludes the necessary and adequate education and safety standards already set by state legislatures for the practice of acupuncture. [Education and safety standards are primarily set by regulators, not legislators, and the rules typically apply to classes of professionals, not techniques.  Do we use the term Tui Na to preclude ourselves from massage standards? PT Boards have set standards for the use of TPDN by their licensees.]

At present, 43 states and the District of Columbia have statutorily defined acupuncture along with the educational and certification standards that qualify an individual for licensure. In addition, the current medical literature remains consistent with regards to the definitions of acupuncture as a procedure and practice provided by state practice acts. [I don’t know why the first sentence is significant and I don’t know what the second sentence means.]

The comments you submit via our Membership Feedback Form will be presented to the AAAOM’s Inter-Professional Standards Committee for review, enabling us to take action on your behalf. [Is there a deadline?  Who is on the committee? Can you share what actions are being considered by the AAAOM?]

Additionally, if you have patients who have been hurt by acupuncture performed by someone who doesn’t have a license a license to practice acupuncture, please direct them to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse Event Form. These submissions are very important for our work and request that our members advise those patients who submit the FDA form to alert the AAAOM of their actions by clicking here. [Please, AAAOM, explain your strategy.  The FDA does not regulate practitioners, it regulates devices. Reporting adverse events might put our access to acupuncture needles at risk but would not impact state determinations of scope of practice or educational requirements.  If public safety is our concern, why request reporting only when non-LAcs are involved? Isn’t it important to report all adverse events?]

The views and comments we have received thus far on the TPDN issue have proven very helpful, thereby allowing us to fulfill our mission and advocate on behalf of your profession. Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to submit your thoughts on this extremely important issue.”

I’ll share my thoughts on the Position Statement soon.   In the meantime, AAAOM, I request you be clear about the percentage of the profession you represent when speaking on “our” behalf.


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© Elaine Wolf Komarow and The Acupuncture Observer, 2013-2033. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from Elaine Wolf Komarow is prohibited. Excerpts and links are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

4 thoughts on “AAAOM Call for Comments

  1. Thank you Elaine for your line-by-line comments. Versions of this letter from the AAAOM have been floating around for a couple of years, and even when they are told that some of the information is incorrect, they continue to put forth erroneous information and take positions that are not supportable by the facts. This letter just shows, once again, how out of touch, unprofessional, uninformed, and irrelevant they have become.

    • My biggest concern for our profession is that the AAAOM isn’t irrelevant, though I agree they are unprofessional and uninformed. To many Licensed Acupuncturists, the public, and members of other professions, the AAAOM is the voice of the profession. The opinions of too many of my colleagues (even those who haven’t been members of the organization for ages), including folks on some of the state regulatory boards, are based on the arguments and positions of the AAAOM without any further information or analysis. It is a big problem.

  2. As with everything I have seen in this profession backward slow moving ignorance. On hand knows nothing that the other hand is doing. Very sad. Things have been like this for so many years. I had no idea the the AAOM even advocated for acupuncturists until the last 5 years and I have been practicing for 13 years. How sad is that? What exactly do they do anyway? What have they been doing? How do they survive with just 3% of acupuncturist supporting them? Next to other professions we look pretty dumb. I am disgusted to hearing all the stuff we are not doing. I am glad you keep brining it to my attention. Thanks.

    • I see the problem as two-fold — what the AAAOM is doing that they shouldn’t and what they aren’t doing but should. IMO, the things are they doing are the bigger problem. Not doing helpful things just leaves us taking care of ourselves, but doing potentially harmful things is even worse. When it comes to TPDN, what they are doing is worse than nothing. I am sympathetic to some degree — it is hard to do anything with little support. I keep waiting, though, for some introspection on their part.

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