This appeal concerns the scope of practice of chiropractors and drugless healers in this state. The defendant, James A. Wilson, was enjoined by the trial court
On appeal the defendant objects to the specific application of the injunction, arguing that he should be allowed to take blood samples for diagnostic purposes, practice galvanic acupuncture (a form of electrotherapy), prescribe or give vitamins, minerals, and food supplements to his patients.
We note initially that article 20, section 2 of the Washington State Constitution vests exclusive authority in the legislature to "regulate the practice of medicine and surgery, and the sale of drugs and medicines." It thus becomes necessary to examine the statutes which regulate the practice of chiropractic and drugless healing. State v. Houck, 32 Wn.2d 681, 203 P.2d 693 (1949).
The defendant is licensed for chiropractic and drugless healing pursuant to RCW 18.25.010 and RCW 18.36.040 respectively. RCW 18.25.030 delimits the practice of a chiropractor by stating that he
Drugless therapeutics is defined by RCW 18.36.010 to include
RCW 18.71.020 penalizes those who practice medicine and surgery without first being licensed as a physician and surgeon. RCW 18.71.010 states that:
First, State v. Houck, supra, advises that the administration of a hypodermic injection would be a surgical procedure. Since both galvanic acupuncture and the taking of blood samples involve the penetration of human tissue, they likewise constitute surgery. Second, neither procedure is specifically authorized by the licensing statutes.
The defendant's chief concern on this appeal is the matter of blood sampling. He contends that it was the intent of the legislature to prohibit the penetration of tissue, i.e., surgery, for the purpose of treatment only, and the penetration of tissue for diagnostic purposes should be allowed. He stresses that: (1) he is fully qualified to take blood samples and obtain a diagnosis with the assistance of area laboratory services; (2) blood samples are an important diagnostic tool — essential for the determination of whether and how his patients should be treated; and (3) he would be subject to malpractice liability for treating a patient on the basis of a faulty diagnosis. We are not going to dispute these three points. But it should be noted also that defendant's
As stated above, the scope of practice of persons engaged in the various healing sciences is exclusively a matter of legislative concern.
Defendant also argues that he should be allowed to engage in galvanic acupuncture, since it is a form of electrotherapy, and drugless healers are permitted by statute to practice electrotherapy. We are not informed by the record whether or not electrotherapy involves skin penetration. We assume that it does not because of the prohibition mentioned above. We are, however, informed by the record that galvanic acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into various portions of the body and the application of electric current. This process is even more involved than acupuncture, which is now only in the experimental stage by the medical profession in this country. If we were to allow the extension of permissible electrotherapy in this manner, we would involve the judiciary in a medical matter which, according to the constitution, belongs with the legislature. Since galvanic acupuncture does involve the penetration of human tissue, we hold that it is not an authorized practice for chiropractors and drugless healers.
We are aware, however, that the drugless healers certified in the food sciences may treat disease through the use of "foods, water, nonmedicinal herbs, roots, barks and all natural food elements other than pharmaceutic drugs and poisons ..." RCW 18.36.020. We therefore hold that chiropractors may not give or prescribe any substance for the purpose of treating disease, and drugless healers may only prescribe those nonpharmaceutic substances listed in RCW 18.36.020. Vitamin and mineral tablets are not on this list. Food supplements in the form of "natural food elements" are permissible. Although the substances brought into issue by the defendant are available without prescription in retail stores, these items may nevertheless be dangerous when improperly used. Furthermore, the prescription of these substances for the treatment of disease has a great potential for abuse if left to the discretion of those practitioners whose training and licensing requirements are limited as in this case. The legislature therefore was within its constitutional authority in limiting the practice of chiropractic and drugless healing in this respect.
We have examined the defendant's remaining assignments of error and find them to be without substantial merit.
ARMSTRONG and PETRIE, JJ., concur.
Petition for rehearing denied November 18, 1974.
Review denied by Supreme Court December 16, 1974.
RCW 18.25.020 requires licensed chiropractors to have completed 4,000 hours of classroom instruction. (Defendant completed 4,418 hours at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic alone.) License applicants are also required to pass an examination in anatomy, physiology, hygiene, symptomatology, nerve tracing, chiropractic-orthopedy, and principles of chiropractic and adjusting. RCW 18.25.030. Applicants for a license to practice drugless therapeutics must have completed three 36-week sessions at an approved school, and must pass examinations in anatomy, physiology, hygiene, symptomatology, urinalysis, dietetics, hydrotherapy, radiography, electrotherapy, gynecology, obstetrics, psychology, and mechanical and manual manipulation. RCW 18.36.040.
The bill never emerged from the committee.