Response to British Medical Journal Editorial Regarding Unsafe Practice of Acupuncture
Monday, March 8th, 2010
(Jacksonville, FL) – The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM®) is responding to a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal, which states that microbiologists at the University of Hong Kong claim that the number of reported acupuncture-related infections worldwide was “the tip of an iceberg” and called for tighter infection control measures. Unfortunately, the March 19, 2010 Reuters article, which reported this information, failed to mention that the largest and most highly trained segment of acupuncturists, licensed acupuncturists (most of whom are NCCAOM certified practitioners) have extensive training to include competency assessment in universal precautions and clean needle technique (CNT) before obtaining their national certification and licensure to practice acupuncture.
The article neglected to mention that the incident of infections is drastically reduced when a consumer seeks a qualified practitioner who has met the rigorous standards of the NCCAOM certification which includes passing of the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM’s) clean needle technique course, a prerequisite to becoming an NCCAOM certified practitioner. In addition, NCCAOM Diplomates must complete 450 hours of education in biomedical clinical sciences and pass a separate examination in biomedicine. These hours ensure that an acupuncturist has the necessary skills to treat their patient in a safe and efficacious manner as well as to know when to refer a patient to a doctor or other healthcare practitioner for further diagnostic evaluation.
Since its inception in 1982, NCCAOM has issued more than 22,000 certificates in Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology and Asian Bodywork Therapy. The NCCAOM, a national non-profit organization is constantly at work to build and strengthen safety and ethical standards in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. The NCCAOM national examinations are recognized in 43 of the 44 states that have laws for licensing acupuncturists. This means that 98% of states that regulate the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine require NCCAOM examinations as a prerequisite for licensure.
According to the researchers at Hong Kong University, which prompted the editorial in the British Medical Journal, “the best prevention from infections transmitted by acupuncture is infection control measures such as use of disposable needles, skin disinfection procedures and aseptic techniques”. These exact knowledge and skills are all taught and assessed through the CCAOM sponsored CNT course and examination that all NCCAOM certified practitioners must complete before they can become certified and licensed to practice acupuncture. In addition, certified NCCAOM Diplomates must complete a rigorous testing process and must demonstrate completion of more than 2,000 hours of education and clinical training provided by a school accredited by ACAOM. In order to retain the Diplomate status, one must recertify every four years.
“When seeking an acupuncture practitioner, look for an NCCAOM Certified Diplomate of Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine who can be found by searching the NCCAOM Certification Registry Search Engine on the NCCAOM website,” stated NCCAOM Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kory Ward-Cook. “Consumers can be assured these practitioners have met and continue to meet the highest level of competency to practice safety and effectively.”
“The mission of the NCCAOM® is to establish, assess, and promote recognized standards of competence and safety in acupuncture and Oriental medicine for the protection and benefit of the public.”
For additional information about the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession, please go to the following websites:
Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: www.acaom.org
American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: www.aaaomonline.org
American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia: www.aobta.org
Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: www.ccaom.org
Federation of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Regulatory Agencies: www.faomra.com
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: www.nccam.nih.gov
Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR): http://www.acupunctureresearch.org