Acupuncturist Licensing and Disciplinary Actions

The Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners (TSBAE), which falls under the auspices of the Texas Medical Board (TMB), licenses and monitors acupuncturists for compliance with applicable rules and laws. If someone files a complaint against an educator, the TMB will investigate the complaint and file disciplinary proceedings as needed. Disciplinary proceedings against acupuncturists accused of violating these laws and rules can result in severe sanctions. If you are facing disciplinary proceedings that may adversely impact your acupuncturist license, contact an acupuncturist license defense attorney for help. 

Licensure Requirements for Acupuncturists

According to the TMB, acupuncture involves the insertion of acupuncture needle(s) and the application of moxibustion to specific areas of the human body as a primary mode of therapy to treat and mitigate a human condition. Acupuncture is utilized to evaluate and assess that condition. Acupuncturists may administer thermal or electrical treatments or recommend dietary guidelines, energy flow exercise, or dietary or herbal supplements in conjunction with acupuncture as treatment.

Any individual who wishes to provide acupuncture services in the state of Texas is required to obtain a license from the TMB. Licensure as an acupuncturist requires that you meet the following requirements:

  • You are at least 21 years of age and can show proof of English proficiency;
  • Completion of a license application and payment of a $305 application fee;
  • Completion of 60 college hours;
  • Completion of 1,800 hours of acupuncture training from an accredited acupuncture school, 450 hours of which must be in herbal training;
  • Graduation from an accredited acupuncture school;
  • Achievement of a passing score on the full NCCAOM examination;
  • Achievement of a passing score on the CCAOM Clean Needle Technique Course and Practical Examination; and
  • Achievement of a passing score on the Texas jurisprudence examination.

Understanding the Complaint Process 

TSBAE receives all complaints that individuals file against licensed acupuncturists. Under Tex. Occ. Code 205.1521, TSBAE must complete a preliminary investigation of a complaint within 30 days of receiving it. First, TSBAE must consider whether the acupuncturist constitutes a continuing threat to the public welfare. Next, TSBAE must determine whether to take official action on the complaint. This decision, in part, is made after considering the acupuncturist’s response to a preliminary investigation inquiry outlining the allegations in the complaint. Further official action is merited if the TSBAE believes an acupuncturist has violated a rule or law. 

If TSBAE decides to proceed with official action following the preliminary investigation, it will notify both the complainant and the subject of the complaint. Typically, the case will proceed to an Informal Compliance Conference to determine if the parties can reach an informal agreement or resolution to the complaint. Any agreements go to the full TSBAE for approval. On the other hand, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the contested case may proceed to a hearing before an administrative law judge for a determination as to whether a violation has occurred. 

Grounds for Disciplinary Action

Tex. Occ. Code § 205.351 lists various grounds that may subject acupuncturists to disciplinary action. These grounds include:

  • intemperate usage of drugs or intoxicating liquors to the extent that, in the opinion of the board, could endanger the lives of patients;
  • obtaining or attempting to obtain a license by fraud or deception;
  • adjudication of mental incompetency by a court;
  • a mental or physical condition that renders the person unable to perform safely as an acupuncturist;
  • failure to practice acupuncture in an acceptable manner consistent with public health and welfare;
  • violation of a law or rule that pertains to acupuncturists;
  • conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude or a felony or deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion for such an offense;
  • holding one’s self out as a physician or surgeon or any combination or derivative of those terms unless also licensed by the TMB as a physician or surgeon;
  • fraudulent or deceptive usage of a license;
  • engagement in unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive, defraud, or injure a member of the public;
  • commission of an act in violation of state law if the act is connected with the person’s practice as an acupuncturist;
  • failure to adequately supervise the activities of a person acting under the supervision of the license holder;
  • directly or indirectly aiding or abetting the practice of acupuncture by any person not licensed to practice acupuncture by TSBAE;
  • being unable to practice acupuncture with reasonable skill and with safety to patients because of illness, drunkenness, or excessive use of drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material or because of any mental or physical condition;
  • being the subject of repeated or recurring meritorious healthcare liability claims that, in the opinion of TSBAE, show professional incompetence likely to injure the public;
  • having a license to practice acupuncture suspended, revoked, or restricted by another state or has been subject to other disciplinary action by another state or by the uniformed services of the United States regarding practice as an acupuncturist; or
  • sexually abusing or exploiting another person through the license holder’s practice as an acupuncturist.

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Consequences of Disciplinary Actions for Acupuncturists

Tex. Occ. Code § 205.352 outlines the disciplinary powers of the TSBAE. If the TSBAE finds sufficient grounds to discipline an acupuncturist, it may take one or more of the following actions:

  • revoke the person’s license or certificate to practice acupuncture;
  • require the person to submit to the care, counseling, or treatment of a health care practitioner designated by TSBAE as a condition for the continuance or renewal of a license or certificate to practice acupuncture;
  • require the person to participate in a program of education or counseling prescribed by TSBAE;
  • suspend, limit, or restrict the person’s license or certificate to practice acupuncture, including limiting the practice of the person to, or excluding from the practice, one or more specified activities of acupuncture or stipulating periodic review by TSBAE;
  • require the person to practice under the direction of an acupuncturist designated by TSBAE for a specified period;
  • assess an administrative penalty against the person;
  • require the person to perform public service considered appropriate by TSBAE;
  • stay enforcement of an order and place the person on probation with TSBAE retaining the right to vacate the probationary stay and enforce the original order for noncompliance with the terms of probation or impose any other remedial measure or sanction;
  • require the person to continue or review professional education until the person attains a degree of skill satisfactory to TSBAE in those areas that are the basis of the probation;
  • require the person to report regularly to TSBAE on matters that are the basis of the probation; or
  • administer a public reprimand.

We Can Help Protect Your Acupuncturist License

At Bertolino LLP, an acupuncturist license defense lawyer can guide you through your disciplinary proceedings and defend you against misconduct allegations. We are here to help you fight back to protect your acupuncturist license and preserve your career. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 to reach the offices of Bertolino LLP, or contact us online.

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