Major Victory for Physical Therapists and Patients
Court Rules that Physical Therapists May Perform Dry Needling
For nearly two years, the NCPTA has been involved in lawsuits with the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board to protect patients’ access to dry needling, and to ensure that our members can deliver this safe and effective treatment. Today, I am pleased to report a major court victory.
In a thorough, 30-page decision, the North Carolina Business Court has ruled that physical therapists may perform dry needling. The Court's ruling affirms a decision by the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners that reached the following conclusions:
- “The scope of physical therapy under North Carolina law includes dry needling.”
- “Dry needling is distinct from acupuncture.”
- The Acupuncture Board “fails to recognize that health professions are allowed to have overlapping scope of practice.”
- “North Carolina public policy favors patient choice in health care.”
You can find a copy of the Court’s decision at this link.
The NCPTA is grateful for this victory, which marks the third time that the courts have sided with physical therapists and their patients in litigation with the Acupuncture Board.
As you may recall, the first victory was in April 2016, when the Acupuncture Board’s original lawsuit against the Physical Therapy Board and NCPTA members was dismissed right off the bat. The second victory was in January 2017, when the Court in our federal lawsuit ruled that we sufficiently alleged the Acupuncture Board and its members violated--and continue to violate--the federal antitrust laws by seeking to make dry needling unavailable to patients who benefit from it.
Despite these victories, however, the lawsuits are not yet over. The Acupuncture Board has the right to appeal the Business Court’s ruling that physical therapists may perform dry needling.
Meanwhile, the NCPTA continues to fight for our members and their patients in our federal antitrust lawsuit. Rest assured, the NCPTA is committed to that federal lawsuit for as long as it takes. I am asking you to please consider a contribution to our legal defense fund--$100, $250, $500, or even $1,000.
Even if you do not personally offer dry needling, this affects you. We owe it to our patients to stand up for their access to care. Please donate today.
Kyle Covington, PT, DPT, PhD