Why Can’t Physiotherapy Assistant Remove Acupuncture Needles?

We know it’s a confusing exception. There is some history and reasoning behind it, though. It’s based on how the authority to perform controlled acts is granted by law. 

We know it’s a confusing exception. There is some history and reasoning behind it, though. It’s based on how the authority to perform controlled acts is granted by law. 

Under the Physiotherapy Act, PTs have the ability to 1) communicate diagnosis, 2) perform tracheal suctioning, 3) administer a substance by inhalation, 4) do wound care, 5) perform spinal manipulation, and 6) insert a hand, finger or instrument beyond the labia majora or anal verge to assess or rehabilitate pelvic musculature.

Physiotherapists are able to delegate their authority to another person (an assistant or an occupational therapist, for example) for three activities only: tracheal suctioning, administering a substance by inhalation, and wound care. College Council decided that communicating a diagnosis, spinal manipulation and internal pelvic treatment were too risky to delegate.

 Health care professionals are able to teach patients and families a controlled act (such as tracheal suctioning) if a patient requires it for the activities of daily living. 

There is a provision in the Regulated Health Professional Act to address this. There is also a provision allowing students to perform controlled acts under supervision, if said acts are necessary to fulfill their professional qualifications and begin practice.

Alas. Physiotherapists have NOT been given direct and specific authority to perform acupuncture. 

It was not always regulated, and while it wasn’t, anyone could do it. 

When the government started regulating acupuncture, they allowed physiotherapists to continue doing it, but only as a special exemption. That means no component of acupuncture (even removing needles) can be delegated. 

This requirement is not part of our College rules, but it falls to us (the College) to ensure the Standard is enforced.

So please remember that you cannot delegate any part of acupuncture to anyone – it’s all you! 

Under the Physiotherapy Act, PTs have the ability to:

  1. communicate a diagnosis,
  2. perform tracheal suctioning,
  3. administer a substance by inhalation,
  4. perform wound care,
  5. perform spinal manipulation, and
  6. insert a hand, finger or instrument beyond the labia majora or anal verge to assess or rehabilitate pelvic musculature.

Physiotherapists are able to delegate their authority to another person (an assistant or an occupational therapist, for example) for three activities only: tracheal suctioning, administering a substance by inhalation, and wound care. College Council decided that communicating a diagnosis, spinal manipulation and internal pelvic treatment were too risky to delegate.

Health care professionals are able to teach patients and families a controlled act (such as tracheal suctioning) if a patient requires it for the activities of daily living. 

There is a provision in the Regulated Health Professional Act to address this. There is also a provision allowing students to perform controlled acts under supervision, if said acts are necessary to fulfill their professional qualifications and begin practice.

Alas, physiotherapists have NOT been given direct and specific authority to perform acupuncture. 

It was not always regulated, and while it wasn’t, anyone could do it. 

When the government started regulating acupuncture, they allowed physiotherapists to continue doing it, but only as a special exemption. That means no component of acupuncture (even removing needles) can be delegated. 

This requirement is not part of our College rules, but it falls to us (the College) to ensure the Standard is enforced.

So please remember that you cannot delegate any part of acupuncture to anyone – it’s all you!