Michigan Medical Acupuncture Association

What is Medical Acupuncture?

What is medical acupuncture? In the minds of some medical acupuncture is any form of acupuncture or acupuncture technique that is performed by a licensed medical physician, whether M.D. or D.O.  In fact in the opinion of one national acupuncture association, the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA), only licensed physicians may call themselves medical acupuncturists.  The International Academy of Medical Acupuncture (IAMA), which was founded by chiropractor and acupuncturist Dr. John Amaro, differs with that viewpoint and trains hundreds of chiropractors as medical acupuncturists.  Dr. John Amaro was most likely one of the very first acupuncturists to use the term medical acupuncture and Dr. Amaro owns a trademark for the term.

The American Manual Medicine Association (AMMA) disagrees that acupuncture simply becomes "medical" because a licensed medical physician practices it.  Perhaps the actual correct description of physician practiced acupuncture, is "Physician Acupuncture."  Neither the AAMA nor the IAMA have adopted evidence based practices or evidence based ethical standards for the acupuncture that they promote, teach, or that their members practice.  What the AAMA and the IAMA members mainly study and practice is traditional Chinese and Asian acupuncture based upon the exact same philosophy as TCM/TAM acupuncturists.

So what is medical acupuncture?  Medical acupuncture is the evidenced based practice of acupuncture as a medical modality or clinical procedure.  Medical acupuncture may be performed on a patient when a diagnosis of illness, disease, condition, or disorder is provided by a person licensed to provide patient diagnosis and when this illness, disease, condition, or disorder is treated by acupuncture as defined in the procedural code book of the American Medical Association (AMA) medical acupuncture as a clinical modality has been performed.  Currently acupuncture is identified by several procedural codes beginning with code number 97810.

From this definition medical acupuncture is simply a clinical modality, like the use of hot or cold packs.  Medical acupuncture is an evidence based medical procedure and it is subject to the established standards and ethics of professional medical care.  The normal standards of medical care include patient intake, case history, record keeping, assessment and diagnosis, clinical treatment, follow-up and re-assessment.

Who are the medical acupuncturists?  In most states a medical acupuncture professional is any person trained in evidence based acupuncture who is legally empowered to perform diagnosis and treatment.  In most states this requires that an acupuncturist is a licensed physician, whether a chiropractor, medical, naturopathic or osteopathic physician, or is a physician assistant or nurse, or a person trained as a medical acupuncturist who is working under the delegation and supervision of a licensed physician.  A medical acupuncturist may also be a classically trained acupuncturist with additional training in medical acupuncture and who follows common evidence based standards and procedures.

In the state of Michigan the Michigan Public Health Code mandates that a non physician lay acupuncturist must work under the order, diagnosis, delegation and supervision of a licensed physician.  From this perspective a lay acupuncturist is a medical assistant who while working under the supervision of a licensed physician may perform the medical procedure of acupuncture.  The lay acupuncturist may not treat without delegation or supervision and may not diagnose patient conditions.

The Michigan Medical Acupuncture Association supports physician directed and supervised patient care and requires its members to work under physician delegation and supervision and within the Michigan Public Health Code.

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