Friday, December 09, 2005

Alternative medicine needs rules: acupuncturist

CBC News

Practitioners of Chinese medicine said they welcome Ontario legislation to regulate the profession, despite warnings by some doctors that the proposed law is flawed.
"It's going to make it much safer because there will be a governing body, a college of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine that will regulate the practice," said Elyse Tera, an acupuncturist with Riverside Acupuncture and Wellness Centre in Ottawa.
Tera said she studied for three years to learn about the hundreds of acupuncture points on the human body. But she's heard of people who declared themselves acupuncturists after a three-month course.
On Wednesday, Health Minister George Smitherman tabled a bill in the legislature to regulate Chinese medicine.
If passed, the legislation would create a self-governing regulatory college that would set minimum professional standards. It also ensures that practitioners are kept abreast of the latest techniques, and develop a complaints and discipline process.
Traditional Chinese medicine is a holistic system of health care. Therapies include acupuncture, herbal therapy, and therapeutic exercise.
"It's widely used now already. The thing is it's not regulated, in the sense that somebody can go on a weekend seminar and say, 'Well I'm an acupuncturist,' " said Ottawa Centre MPP Richard Patton, who helped prepare the legislation.
"You have to be careful about sterilizing needles. You are going into the skin below the epidermis and there are safety concerns," he said.
But Toronto acupuncturist Luheng Han said the proposed law would still allow more than 20 regulated professions to set their own standards for acupuncture.
Luheng says the government should set one standard for all acupuncturists.
"They were trying to please everybody. I don't think the government has any bad intentions, but I think they forget the principle. It's public safety," said Luheng.

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