Chiropractic Board Withdraws Scope Rules

Ongoing opposition from TMA and others to the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners' (TBCE's) attempts to expand chiropractors' scope of practice caused the board to shelve those plans. The board's executive director said the board intends to stay within its statutory authority in the future. The proposed rules, which would have permitted chiropractors to perform some procedures that state law allows only physicians to perform, were withdrawn.

TBCE Executive Director Yvette Yarbrough said agency officials "knew that the rule that was proposed was not adequate" and "recognized we needed to keep working" on them. She says the TBCE staff is developing new rules and will "make sure that what we propose is within the confines of the Chiropractic Act." She added that the staff probably will issue its new proposal at TBCE's August meeting. TMA continues to monitor those meetings. 

TMA sought to protect patients' safety in a series of court cases. TMA and the Texas Orthopedic Association won a challenge to the Podiatry Board rules and were successful in actions against TBCE challenging previous regulations. These regulations attempted to expand the scope of chiropractic practice. The most recent victory occurred last December when an Austin district judge ruled that chiropractors do not have the authority to perform vestibular-ocular-nystagmus testing. TMA also prevailed in a previous case challenging TBCE’s rules on diagnosis, needle electromyography (EMG), and spinal manipulation under anesthesia.  

Ms. Yarbrough says her "goal is to minimize that [litigation] in the future." 

TMA's attorneys say TBCE attempted to redefine chiropractors' rules of practice to include language that would allow them to expand their scope beyond what the law allows. For example, the law limits chiropractors to treating the biomechanical condition of the spine and musculoskeletal system. The proposed rules that were withdrawn would have redefined biomechanics to include the peripheral nervous system, allowing chiropractors to perform needle EMG or other nerve testing, which the courts already rejected. They also would have permitted chiropractors to perform video fluoroscopy and "dry needle" treatment.  


Action, Feb. 15, 2012


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