Court Sides With TMA in Final Ruling on Chiropractic Scope of Practice Lawsuit

We won! In a final judgment by Travis County District Court Judge Rhonda Hurley, TMA prevailed in its long-held declaration that the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners' (TBCE's) rules permitting chiropractors to make medical diagnoses and perform other medical procedures exceed the chiropractic scope of practice. 

By voiding the rules, Texas chiropractors can't perform vestibular-ocular-nystagmus (VON) testing. The court also specified that the definitions of "musculoskeletal system" to include "nerves," "subluxation complex" as a "neuromusculoskeletal condition," and use of the term "diagnosis" by TBCE in its rules all exceed the scope of practice as defined by the Texas Occupations Code.  

TMA has always maintained that expanding chiropractors' or any other practitioner group's scope of practice requires legislative action to amend state laws governing licensees in Texas. It is not something the regulatory boards can do on their own.

TMA and the chiropractic board have a history of litigation. TMA prevailed in its lawsuit over TBCE rules that allowed VON testing by chiropractors. TMA sued the board in early 2011 and emphasized to the court that allowing some chiropractors to perform VON testing puts Texans' health in danger and that the diagnostic test is outside chiropractors' scope because "the eyes and ears are not part of the spine or musculoskeletal system of the human body."

The trial court sided with TMA, but TBCE appealed the decision. TMA asked the Third Court of Appeals to uphold the trial court ruling, saying in part that:  

  • The vestibular system isn't part of the spine or musculoskeletal system;
  • The vestibular testing rules unlawfully authorize chiropractors to practice medicine; and
  • The Chiropractic Act doesn't authorize chiropractors to make a "differential diagnosis" of a patient's medical condition. 

In a previous case challenging TBCE's rules on needle electromyography and spinal manipulation under anesthesia, the Court of Appeals held that there were unresolved fact issues that required the court to reverse the trial court's judgment. The case was remanded to the trial court for a full trial on the merits and as before, TMA prevailed.

Learn more about TMA's scope of practice efforts

Action, Nov. 1, 2016

Last Updated On

June 26, 2019

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