On Monday, August 22, 2005, the California Acupuncture Board (CAB) approved several changes to the regulation of the profession.
Single Use Needles
The CAB approved "emergency regulations" that require single-use needles to be used by all Licensed Acupuncturists in California effective immediately. Specifically, the regulation prohibits the use of a needle more than once and requires that all needles be labeled "for single use only" in accordance with federal regulations (21 CFR Part 880.5580). Because this is considered "emergency regulation," the single use needle regulations take effect immediately.
While there is no evidence of transmission of infections or disease using properly sterilized reusable needles and while these sterilization and reuse procedures are common in other healthcare professions, this issue has become a central issue in many recent political battles surrounding the profession. This regulatory change has been recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Statement on Acupuncture; the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM); the Little Hoover Commission report on acupuncture; and Joint Committee on Boards, Commissions, and Consumer Protection.
AIMS has been contacted by several practitioners who rely on "reusable-type" needles in their practice. While the new regulations clearly prohibit needle reuse, we are working with these practitioners to determine if there is a way for "reusable-type" needles--that come in unsterilized packages--to be sterilized for single use. AIMS will publish this information as it becomes available.