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Protect our troops from fake medical procedures

This petition had 388 supporters

Our military personnel deserve the best care for both injuries received in service to our country, and for their everyday health needs. Unfortunately, some misguided people in our military health services are hiring practitioners who are not qualified to give medical treatment.

Acupuncture itself is indistinguishable from placebo in medical studies. Acupuncturists are not trained in differential diagnosis--or even basic science-based physiology--so they wiill not know when patients have serious conditions that need prompt medical attention by a real physician. Instead, they will waste valuable time using needles at mythical meridian points or cupping (as shown in the picture above), which do not have medical value. Even if patients are not harmed by the delay, there is no reason to pay for ineffective treatments when the government needs to cut its budget.

According to Harriet Hall, M.D., the U.S. Army Medical Command recently announced a job opening in the Interdisciplinary Pain Management Center at the San Antonio Military Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Two GS-12 positions were advertised for acupuncturists at a salary of $68,809 to $89,450. As a licensed acupuncturist, a candidate would be expected to offer a full array of the most current and emerging evidenced based approaches in integrative medicine for patients with acute and chronic pain who have not responded well to conventional treatment modalities.

[For a complete list of job duties and medical reasons why these are not valid medical care, see ]

This is wrong on more levels than one. After giving lip service to the politically correct term “evidence based” they proceed to include clearly non-evidence-based modalities in the job description. Rigorous scientists do not classify acupuncture itself as evidence-based, since the evidence is compatible with the hypothesis that it is no more than an elaborate system to provide placebo and other nonspecific effects.

In an era where we are being asked to study comparative effectiveness and to reduce costs, how can the Army justify hiring acupuncturists to provide unproven services that are based only on prescientific thinking and testimonial “evidence”?

Moxibustion has not been shown to be effective for any condition and it can burn and sometimes permanently scar the skin. Neither of us is a lawyer, but it sounds to us that this might meet the legal definition of battery. We find it difficult to imagine that patients are made aware of all the pros and cons and are giving true informed consent to these procedures.

Besides this program, the Air Force is teaching its doctors to do ear acupuncture, a system that was invented in 1957 by a single individual based on his idiosyncratic perception that the shape of the ear looked something like a fetus curled up in the uterus. They call it “battlefield acupuncture.” And a Navy program is snowing doctors with false and incomplete information and persuading them to adopt acupuncture into their practices.

Please sign this petition to stop spending our limited public funding on procedures that do not help and may harm our nation's brave military personnel.

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