Senate panel OKs chiropractic ‘dry needle’ bill after prickly debate
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Inserting thin needles into or near trigger points in a muscle can relieve pain and improve range of motion.

Chiropractors’ effort to get the green light to “dry needle” was met with some critics trying to poke holes in the proposed legislation.

Members of the Senate Health Policy Committee debated SB 1474 at length before voting 9-1 to pass the bill.

Filed by GOP Sen. Jay Trumbull, the bill expands chiropractors’ scope of practice by authorizing them to perform dry needling, a technique that involves inserting thin needles into or near trigger points in the muscle to relieve pain and improve range of motion. The bill also creates a licensure pathway for chiropractic physicians who obtained their bachelor’s degree outside the United States to practice in Florida.

The provision would allow Amanda Sellers, a chiropractor from Longwood, to set up shop. Sellers, who started to cry during her testimony, said there were “many others” facing similar challenges. Sellers received her undergraduate degree from the University of West Ontario Canada and subsequently went to chiropractic college in Florida in 2016.

After graduating and passing her boards she moved to Reno, Nevada, where she practiced until she and her husband decided to return to Florida to be closer to family.

However, when she submitted her licensure application to the Florida Chiropractic Board this year, she was denied. She said she was told by the board at a Nov. 9, 2023, meeting that she would have to go back to college and receive her undergraduate degree.

Committee members were sympathetic to Sellers’ predicament. More than one committee member was irked, though, that the dry needling issue was comingled with the fix for the Florida chiropractor.

“There are two really large concepts here, both with weight of (their) own. Why did you combine this in one piece of legislation?” Sen. Tracie Davis asked Florida Chiropractic Association (FCA) General Counsel Kimberly Driggers.

“Because the Board of Chiropractic Medicine asked us to fix it in a chiropractic bill,” Driggers said. “Rather than separate them we wanted to fix the issues together. Those issues were both the result of that Nov. 9 meeting.”

The FCA petitioned the board for a determination on dry needling and whether it was within the chiropractic scope of practice to do so. Facing opposition at the board meeting, the FCA ultimately withdrew the petition.

While laws governing chiropractic medicine don’t allow for dry needling, there is a rule that allows athletic trainers to dry needle under the supervision of a physician. Riggers told the committee members that under statutes chiropractors are considered physicians.

The bill heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, which is chaired by Sen. Gayle Harrell. And while Harrell voted to support the bill this week, she is not a fan of scope-of-practice expansions.

This isn’t the first tussle over dry needling and what health care practitioners are authorized to conduct the procedures. After an unsuccessful attempt to add dry needling services through rule, the physical therapists in 2020 successfully convinced the Legislature to put it into their practice act.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


2 comments

  • My Take

    February 8, 2024 at 10:05 pm

    Think duck: “Quack!”

  • Matthew McCoy DC, MPH

    February 9, 2024 at 7:00 am

    In case you want to report on the truth:

    I am a licensed chiropractor in Florida since 1989 and have been involved in chiropractic education, research and the malpractice insurance business for several decades. I have kept a close eye on developments related to the practice of chiropractic in Florida ever since I was licensed. I watched the debate in the Senate Health Policy Committee yesterday with great interest and concern. I am concerned because it appears you have been misled by the Florida Chiropractic Association on the following points:

    1. The issue related to licensure and Bachelor’s degrees was brought up before the Florida Board and the legislature as far back as 2015 and as recently as a couple of years ago. See related story: http://chiropractic.prosepoint.net/179979 So the notion that this is a “recently discovered problem” as you stated before the Committee is simply untrue. The FCA has repeatedly voted AGAINST removing these draconian educational requirements which are tied to the operation of an educational monopoly operating within the chiropractic profession. What the FCA is doing now is using this issue, which has broad support, and piggy backing it onto their efforts to expand the scope of practice for chiropractors such that it infringes on the practice of medicine. Rather than taking the risk to open up the entire scope of practice and risk losing, the FCA and the FBCM are attempting to piecemeal their efforts to expand the scope to include drugs, injectables, muscle relaxers, steroid packs, dry needling and trigger point injections. They are starting with dry needling because members of the Board already perform this procedure and they are attempting to boil the frog slowly.

    2. The Florida Board of Chiropractic voted 4-2 against dry needling. That is well documented and one only needs to listen to the recording or read the transcripts to verify this. You will also note that the 4-2 vote was conveniently left out of the written portion of the minutes – which is very concerning. In fact I have sent several requests to the FBCM and the Attorney General’s office asking about their parliamentary procedures related to this vote and they have refused to respond despite Florida’s Sunshine Laws. I would think that as a Senator you would want to know if someone is lying to you or not. See related story: http://chiropractic.prosepoint.net/181016

    3. The FCA also misled you when Kim Driggers claimed that the FCA has 4000 members. This was debunked when she made that claim last year. See related story: http://chiropractic.prosepoint.net/179969 She also claimed to have heard from 75 members that they wanted dry needling in scope – yet only 7 submitted anything to the board. Where are these other 75 chiropractors? And even if they did exist they represent less than 1% of the over 10,000 licensed chiropractors in Florida.

    4. You compared dry needling to acupuncture however the FCA’s expert witness that testified before the Board stated that dry needling is not the same as acupuncture.

    5. It was stated that the current board chair (Oliverio) claims that dry needling is within scope. Oliverio is on record as the one who wants to expand the scope of chiropractic to include: drugs, injectables, muscle relaxers, steroid packs, dry needling and trigger point injections. Gretchen Saudners was the Chair of the Board last year when dry needling was voted down by the board stating: “I’m here to protect the public. And I’m confused by this and there are a lot of good, bad, everything under the sun.”

    6. The Florida Statute defines chiropractic as “non-combative” and the statute that specifically disallows surgical, incisive and combative procedures. See related story: http://chiropractic.prosepoint.net/180611 In Florida, “surgery” is defined as any manual or operative procedure performed on a living human body. Surgery as defined in Florida also includes the removal, incision, or curettage of tissue or an organ, insertion of natural or artificial implants, electro-convulsive therapy, endoscopic procedure, or other procedure requiring the administration of anesthesia or an anesthetic.

    7. The majority of the FBCM Board Members are all dues paying members of the Florida Chiropractic Association and it is the FCA that is pushing for expanding the scope of practice along with these Board members. This raises all kinds of issues related to the Florida Code of Ethics and possible violations by public officers.

    8. The FCA’s shenanigans and misrepresentations are well documented. See related stories: http://chiropractic.prosepoint.net/search?keys=fca

Comments are closed.


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