resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Debunking the Myth: Is Massage Licensing Necessary?
What is the purpose of professional licensing? In virtually all state laws across the country that have established licensing requirements for professions, you’ll find the key phrase, “To protect the public health, safety and welfare.” That sounds noble, but does it really hold up under scrutiny? Let’s look at our mainstream health care delivery system, which operates on a foundation of licensed professionals (including physicians, nurses, pharmacists and a host of others) and accredited hospitals.
STUDIES SAY ...
A 2016 study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine revealed that there are 250,000 deaths per year from medical errors. It’s the third leading cause of death in our country.1 On top of that, more than 100,000 people die each year, and 1.3 million are injured from prescription drugs that have been given the official designation, “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.2
With this many people being killed or harmed by the screw-ups of regulated providers, hospitals and drug companies, the entire structure of laws and rules has failed. The legislative mandate of protecting the public health, safety and welfare has been usurped by a health care system that first and foremost looks after its financial well-being. That, my dear colleagues, is the real reason why professional licensing was established, and why it persists in the face of such damning evidence. Follow the money, not the safety net.
In stark contrast, the practice of massage therapy and bodywork poses virtually no threat to public safety. The incidence of actual harm occurring from these treatments is minuscule. That’s remarkable, in light of more than 150 million hands-on sessions given to clients each year.
If you wondered how a licensed massage therapist can buy a year’s worth of malpractice insurance for just $96, it’s because there is so little risk for the insurance companies. Low payouts for injury equals low premiums.
Despite this fact, massage therapy advocates have gone into state legislatures over the past two decades lobbying for new license laws to be passed. They were motivated by the desire to get massage out of the draconian city and county ordinances regulating adult entertainment, and to upgrade the status of massage to a full-fledged profession.
In each state, they had to convince lawmakers that the unlicensed practice of massage therapy would pose a danger to the public. But in the absence of real data, these advocates (assisted in most places by AMTA) presented anecdotal stories and raised the prospect of harm.
While their hearts may have been in the right place, myths were put forth as truth. It was none other than Joseph Goebbels who said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Believe it they did. As a result of these efforts, we have an entire regulatory structure for the massage therapy field built upon a false premise. Nowhere is this clearer than the homepage of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, where they trumpet in bold headline letters, “FSMTB is focused on public protection.”
Well, the big lie was finally debunked in Vermont. As one of the few remaining states without a massage law in place, AMTA joined forces with ABMP to lobby for legislation there in 2010. In a rare show of unity, both organizations made their most fervent pleas.
Individual practitioners tried to make the case that the public was being harmed by massage therapists and needed to be protected — yet they provided no verifiable evidence. The result can be found in the sunrise application review, published in December 2010 by the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation. Here’s their summary, in plain English:
“Under the sunrise criteria, harm to the public must be real and recognizable, and preventable by regulation. The proponents of regulation have not demonstrated harm or a need to protect the public if the profession remains unregulated. They have not demonstrated that the public will benefit from regulation. Other legal protections and market forces are sufficient to protect the public. Therefore, licensure is not appropriate. The Office of Professional Regulation recommends that Massage Therapists not be subject to professional regulation in the State of Vermont.”3
Legislators in Vermont followed this objective recommendation, and opted not to pass a licensure bill. There was very little coverage about this action in the massage press, since the specter of “potential harm from the unlicensed practice of massage” was still being perpetuated by FSMTB, state massage boards and our membership associations.
No one likes those inconvenient truths! Since then, several more states have enacted massage laws. Is Vermont that much smarter, or is the big lie just too well-etched?
PROVISION OF GOOD
Since public protection is not the real issue here, are there other purposes served by state massage licensure that justify its continuance? Or should all these laws get repealed with the field going back to its former unregulated status? These are the fundamental questions our organizational leaders must take up.
It’s time to shift from the harm-based paradigm to the “provision of good.” Without a doubt, massage therapy is a highly effective health care service, and the public benefits greatly from access to ethical practitioners who provide competent treatment.
License laws support that, and have also created a clear delineation between the business of massage therapy and the use of the term “massage” as a cover for other activities provided by the sex-for-hire industry.
Licensure creates more opportunities for massage to be accepted into medical venues such as hospitals, hospice services, clinics, interdisciplinary practices, and for those who seek it — access to insurance reimbursement. This all benefits the public good.
ANOTHER CE DISCUSSION
Continuing education requirements for license renewal, which have been shown to provide no benefit in public safety by the Pew Research Foundation — do translate into better skills, awareness, knowledge and thus to better quality of care provided to the public. This is especially true in a field like ours with such a low entry level of education.
State massage boards should use their statutory authority to crack down on the illegal use of the term “massage” in adult entertainment, and to assist law enforcement agencies in their efforts to address human trafficking. These direct actions will promote the public welfare, and will preserve the integrity of our field.
That’s the key: moving quietly away from a false “public protection” rationale, and shifting state boards’ emphasis to professional development and enforcement of the regulations against unlicensed and unethical practice.
REGULATORY BOARDS ARE THE ANSWER
Further, our massage boards should be working with the regulatory boards of other licensed professions to promote interdisciplinary cooperation in ways to facilitate public good. As it is, each discipline fights to protect its professional “turf.”
For too long, the focus of health care has been on the financial benefit of providers at the expense of consumers. It is time for state massage regulation, better yet all professional healthcare regulation, to serve the true interests of the public. Let’s start something good.