The college will establish the scope of practice and professional registration, and handle complaints brought by the public. The profession is currently unregulated, but the province in 2006 passed legislation to create a regulatory body to ensure public safety.Naturally, practitioners of this trade are up in arms:
Peter Lam, a spokesperson for the ad hoc Committee to Support Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario, said “We have consulted with two lawyers. This is against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is illegal.” In addition to a lack of English proficiency, many current practitioners inherited the knowledge from their ancestors and do not have the formal academic credentials to qualify for the registration requirements, Lam said.I'm not particularly upset that the province is ruling out "my dad taught me" as a proper method of teaching medicine. We don't allow that for many professions, so why would this one be special? Anyway the legislation was passed in 2006. Seems like plenty of time to get your paperwork in order, no?
On one hand, regulating this field is better than the status quo, where anyone with a box of needles can call themselves an acupuncturist, and anyone with a box of powder can practice TCM. Now, you'll at least have to demonstrate that you understand certain basic safety instructions. Like sterilizing the needles first:
3/15/2004: The Quebec government is asking 1,200 people to undergo a blood test for HIV and hepatitis after needles were used more than once at a Montreal acupuncture clinicOr making sure that peddlers of powders and herbs actually know what they are selling you, and what they're made of, so that they don't accidentally give you cancer:
Ying "Susan" Wu, 48, of Holland-on-Sea in Essex, has been on trial at the Old Bailey for selling pills containing aristolochic acid to a civil servant. Patricia Booth, 58, took the pills, bought at Chelmsford's Chinese Herbal Medical Centre, for over five years. She was in her mid-40s when she first sought help from the centre in 1997 for stubborn patches of spots on her face. The products had been advertised as "safe and natural".So hopefully the college can impart a basic degree of safety which is apparently currently lacking in this industry.
But they contained a substance - aristolochic acid - which when she was first sold them, should only have been given under prescription, and which was later banned.
On the other hand, we won't see any degree of accountability for improving patient outcomes. The thing is that acupuncture and TCM do not work effectively to treat illnesses. Acupuncture is a waste of time with the potential for physical harm, and TCM is taking random, untested ingredients and hoping for some kind of drug effect. Both are based on a mystical notion of Qi, a life energy which flows through your body. Simply put: this notion is nonsense. Any non-placebo effect that TCM has is due to actual chemicals doing things in your body. And as Ms Wu found out in the UK, some of those chemicals are pretty dangerous. Some of them do nothing at all. Who can tell what effect a particular medicine will have? Not even its practitioners.
Elevating acupuncture and TCM from unregulated nonsense to a regulated profession will add credibility to this quackery. Instead of simply regulating them for safety, they should also be forced to prove their claims using the scientific method. Heck, even explaining their supposed method of action using real concepts instead of magic would be a start.
But at least fewer people should be poisoned, or exposed to pathogens now that it's being regulated, right?