CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

National Acupuncture Foundation Reissues "Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine State Laws"

The National Acupuncture Foundation has just re-released the popular Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine State Laws & Regulations book.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine State Laws and Regulations, 2005 Edition, is the seventh edition of this widely popular and essential guide to acupuncture and Oriental medicine regulation in the United States. It is a "must have" reference for timely information on the scope of practice of AOM practitioners, educational requirements for licensure, insurance reimbursement, and contact information for each state that regulates acupuncture. New to this edition is an introductory chapter on the regulatory process, the development of standards for the profession, and the practice of acupuncture by healthcare practitioners other than professional acupuncturists. The book also provides listings of additional resources of information about this exciting and rewarding healthcare field.

Sherman Cohn, Professor of Law at Georgetown, wrote an outstanding and comprehensive chapter on regulation, replete with very helpful charts.

Since I authored the Forward, I'll let that speak for itself:

Forward to Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine State Laws

For several years, Barbara Mitchell's Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine State Laws was an indispensable resource for practitioners, attorneys, and regulators, both in acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, and in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) more generally. Barbara Mitchell, JD, L.Ac., is to be commended for her early and insightful compilations of relevant statutes, regulations, and other regulatory material, including model provisions. This new edition continues to build on that wonderful foundation.

The book's thorough research makes it easy to trace relevant legal authority, and as well, to follow through with appropriate officials and locate up-to-date information. The research is comprehensive, detailed, and on-point. Notably, Barbara Mitchell's earlier work, now brought current with the latest developments, highlights the body of regulation that can be critical to understanding such issues as licensure and scope of practice, credentialing, insurance, and professional practice.

The practice of acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine has emerged over several decades as a respected healing profession alongside an array of others making important contributions to patient health. From humble origins in the 1970s as an import from the East and, in the eyes of skeptics, maverick sideline to conventional care, the profession has grown in stature and significance. Practitioners of acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine now work not only independently and in association with other CAM providers across the country, but also in surgical wards, pain centers, intensive care units, and elsewhere within conventional medical settings.

More broadly, U.S. health care is moving past a parochial focus on biomedicine toward inclusion of a larger spectrum of healing traditions and modalities, including not only acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, but also naturopathic medicine, massage therapy, and chiropractic. Once marginalized and dismissed, these disciplines now have established programs for professional training; professional bodies for accreditation of schools; mechanisms to establish professional consensus on ethical codes and standards for professional practice, and roadmaps to licensure in some, most, or in the case of chiropractic, all, states.

The notion of "integrative care"--initially popularized by Andrew Weil, MD, brought into mainstream language by a variety of articles published in peer-reviewed medical literature, and adopted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health--resonates with wider efforts to integrate such therapies with biomedical care. "Integration" also suggests the acceptance of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) providers as peers alongside medical doctors--cross-referring, sharing diagnostic and treatment plans, and otherwise collaborating in the best interest of the patient. Such integration is occurring on many levels, whether within an integrative care clinic designated as such inside an academically affiliated hospital; an association of providers outside a hospital system; or a referral network among and between a diversity of providers, whether styled as "conventional" or "CAM."

Beyond the clinical setting, the research community is intensely active in examination of integration's potential contours. The theory and practice of acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine is neither completely accepted nor completely understood by researchers; yet, as scientific investigation continues delving into safety, efficacy, and mechanism, philosophical bridges are being built, augmenting interpretive conversations across cultures.

Within this new care environment, it becomes increasingly important not only for CAM providers and their professional regulatory boards, but also biomedical professionals (and regulators) to familiarize themselves with laws and regulations relevant to acupuncture and traditional medicine. For example, physicians, whose patients request referrals to acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine practitioners, may wish to understand the basics of such providers' licensure; similarly, those involved in credentialing acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine practitioners would want to understand the regulatory and professional framework that serves as legal scaffolding for the profession. And understanding such regulatory issues as scope of practice variations across states may help clinical researchers learn how better to design trials testing individual therapeutic modalities.

In short, integration has professional practice as well as clinical research, legal and regulatory, and one might add, ethical dimensions. In a larger sense, knowing and understanding the regulatory structure, as well as theories and modalities, pertinent to acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine can help facilitate a true cross-pollination of approaches to clinical care across disciplines. In this light, the present edition of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine State Laws can become a critical reference for those in different healthcare fields. The book no doubt will serve as a catalyst for deeper conversation among healing professionals of all walks and propensities, as well as the regulators who serve them and the public.

Michael H. Cohen, JD
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173