In August 2017, the Florida Board of Physical Therapy issued a Declaratory Statement authorizing Dr. Rob Stanborough, PT, DPT, MHSc, MTC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT, President of First Coast Rehabilitation in St. Augustine, FL and instructor with Myopain Seminars, to use dry needling in his practice. The Declaratory Statement included a statement that dry needling is within the scope of practice in Florida, which is the first step towards ending the confusing language in the Florida Physical Therapy Statutes, which allowed physical therapists to practice "acupuncture only upon compliance with the criteria set forth by the Board of Medicine, when no penetration of the skin occurs……" With this Declaratory Statement, the Florida Board seemed to suggest that dry needling would be within the scope of physical therapy in the state of Florida, but not yet for all physical therapists.
In the Fall of 2017, the Florida Board of Physical Therapy developed the 64B17-6.008 Minimum Standards of Practice for Dry Needling in the Practice of Physical Therapy to set "minimum standards of practice for Dry Needling in the practice of physical therapy."
On February 23, 2018, the Notice of Proposed Rule was published in the Florida Administrative Register.
On May 14, 2018, the Florida State Oriental Medical Association (FSOMA) challenged the proposed rule as an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority alleging that dry needling and acupuncture are one in the same, and that allowing physical therapists (PTs) to perform dry needling will harm patients and the reputation of acupuncturists.
On July 12, 13 and 19, the FSOMA, the Florida APTA and the Florida Board of Physical Therapy presented their point of views to an administrative judge. Jan Dommerholt, president/CEO testified in court on behalf of the Florida APTA.
Florida Administrative Law Judge Lawrence Stevenson ruled on Monday, January 28 that the Florida Board of Physical Therapy Practice’s proposed rule governing the performance of dry needling is invalid. Judge Stevenson found that dry needling performed by physical therapists would neither pose an increased risk of harm to patients nor cause patients to confuse dry needling with acupuncture. He also rejected the Florida State Oriental Medical Association’s argument that dry needling constitutes cultural misappropriation as well as the suggestion that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy precludes the use of acupuncture needles in physical therapy.
But despite finding that the evidence demonstrated the safety, efficacy, and benefits of dry needling performed by physical therapists, Judge Stevenson concluded that dry needling is outside the scope of physical therapy practice in Florida, because it constitutes acupuncture under “the plain, if perhaps outdated, language of the Florida Statutes.”
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