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Practice Alert - Scope of Practice

Tuesday, January 21, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sheri Ryan
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Alaska Chiropractic Society




Alaska Board of Chiropractic Examiners

ACS has become aware of a recent decision by the Alaska Board of Chiropractic Examiners regarding the use of "needles" by Doctors of Chiropractic that will impact chiropractic offices that offer needle EMGs or dry needling services.

At this time, the Board of Chiropractic Examiners has rescinded their Position Statement dated 02/27/2018 that Dry Needling is within the scope of Chiropractic Physicians in Alaska.  2/11/2020 Update - The Board of Chiropractic Examiners did NOT vote to rescind their Position statement regarding Dry Needling dated 02/27/2018 at the 12/23/2019 meeting.  The position statement was removed from the website in error.  At the 02/11/2020 meeting, the Alaska Board of Chiropractic Examiners re-affirmed their position statement that dry needling is within the chiropractic scope of practice.  The position statement will once again be posted to the AK Board of Chiropractic Examiners website.  Here is the Position Statement dated 02/27/2018 - stating dry needling is within the scope of Chiropractic Physicians in Alaska. It should be available on the state website by end of month.  

Here is the excerpt from the BOCE's 12/23/2019 meeting minutes- Page 6, Agenda Item 5 - that all Alaska Chiropractic Physicians should be aware of:

"Dr. Larson gave a brief overview of what needle EMG constitutes and explained that it comes down to the Department of Law’s advice, which states that a needle incises living tissue and therefore constitutes “surgery” as defined in 12 AAC 16.990(b)(2)(A). The board discussed the topic and agreed, based on the interpretation from the Department of Law, that needle EMG is a questionable portion of practice,and that the board cannot approve of it at this time.The board tasked Mr. Bay with contacting Dr. Wilczak with their decision and to also let her know that they are working towards clarifying statute so that all who pursue advanced training and education can perform the things they are trained to do, and to hold off until there is a clear definition that allows for it. Mr. Bay asked the board if they wanted him to relay the same message to people who ask about dry needling, to which the board agreed."  I attended the 2/11/2020 meeting.  The Board of Chiropractic Examiners voted unanimously at the 02/11/2020 meeting to amend their minutes from their 12/23/2019 meeting to remove the sentences stricken above and add language that the Board disagrees with the Department of Law's interpretation and that the Board re-affirms their previous position statement(s) that dry needling and needle EMG are within the chiropractic scope of practice.  The amended minutes for 12/23/2019 as well as the 02/11/2020 meeting minutes should be available on the state website by end of month.  Sheri Ryan, Chief Operating Officer, Alaska Chiropractic Society

It is important to note that the Board of Chiropractic Examiners is aware of the problem with the definition of "surgery" that currently exists in the chiropractic regulations that the Department of Law is basing their interpretation off of and is working to correct.

12 AAC 16.990. DEFINITIONS. (2) "surgery" -(A) means the use of a scalpel, sharp cutting instrument, laser, electrical current, or other device to incise or remove living tissue;
(B) does not include venipuncture or the removal of foreign objects from external tissue.

Because this surgery definition only exists in chiropractic regulations, the Department of Law's interpretation only affects the chiropractic profession and does not translate out to other healthcare providers or individuals who may use "needles".

The BOCE has begun a regulations project to amend the surgery definition and has sent language to the Department of Law for review. Agenda Item 5, Page 11 -

Here is the new proposed definition -“surgery” means the structural alteration of the human body by the incision of or cutting into the tissue for the purpose of diagnostic or therapeutic treatment causing localized alteration of human tissue, but does not include the following: procedures for the removal of superficial foreign bodies from the human body, punctures, suturing, injections, venipuncture, dry needling, acupuncture, or removal of dead tissue.

The Board of Chiropractic Examiners is working in conjunction with the Division of Professional Licensing and the Department of Law to accomplish this goal. A regulations change is a much less involved process than a statute change to correct this problem but will still take several months to accomplish.

I encourage you to read through the Board of Chiropractic Examiners Meeting Packets and Minutes to see the work they are putting forth for the chiropractic profession. ACS welcomes your feedback on the BOCE's direction. Please send them to with the subject line BOCE Direction.  


Sheri Ryan|Chief Operating Officer
Alaska Chiropractic Society| 550 E. Tudor Rd., Suite 202 |Anchorage, AK 99503
Direct/Mobile: (907) 903-1350 | Fax: (907) 770-3790 |Facebook|Twitter |Website


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