Code of Professional Ethics

Membership of OMA gives practitioners rights and privileges. In return, they agree to meet the standards of ethics and conduct set by OMA in its Code of Professional Ethics.

This Code of Professional Ethics lays down the standards of integrity, professionalism and confidentiality which all members of the Association shall be bound to respect in their work as practitioners.

The Code applies to all categories of Membership of the Oriental Medicine Association.

This code has been drawn up with the principles of natural justice in mind. Such principles shall be followed by all parties in implementing and interpreting the code.

The code is divided into three parts:

  • The Core Code of Ethics.
  • Guidance notes for practitioners.
  • Disciplinary procedures.

1. Reasons for a Code of Ethics

  • Adherence to an appropriate Code of Ethics is an essential characteristic of the professional practitioner.
  • It is essential that Members have a clearly defined Code of Ethics to ensure that they:
    • behave at all times with integrity.
    • Remain aware of their responsibilities to themselves, to society, to clients and colleagues.
    • Strive to maintain the highest levels of competence in their discipline.
    • Seek to enhance and promote the standing of the profession and its practitioners.

2. The Core Code of Ethics

Members of the Oriental Medicine Association shall

  1. Respect the rights and dignity of all individuals:
    1. Members place of practice must provide privacy and confidentiality for clients and their records.
    2. Client relationships must not be exploited in any way.
    3. Members must respect the ethical religious and political beliefs of clients and must be willing to refer clients to a more suitable practitioners should such issues seem likely to affect the professional relationship.
    4. Ensure that members’ own beliefs do not prejudice the needs of the client.
  2. Accept responsibility for the exercise of sound judgement:
    1. Members must be prepared to explain the chosen course of treatment to clients and colleagues.
    2. Members must work with colleagues in ways that best serve the clients interests, and be trustworthy in contacts with other health professionals.
    3. Members should contribute to the planning and development of services which enable individual to achieve optimum health.
    4. Membership shall not engage in conduct which is dishonest or illegal or which may bring the Oriental Medicine Association into disrepute or which may prejudice the Oriental Medicine Association or the profession.
  3. Provide an honest, competent and accountable professional services without discrimination, fear or favour:
    1. Members must explain treatments in a way that a client can understand, they must listen to the client’s views and fully answer questions and respect the client’s right to be involved in their treatment.
    2. Members must respect the wish of a client for a second opinion and must, if practicable, help the client obtain a competent second opinion.
  4. Maintain and promote high standards of practice, education and research:
    1. Membership shall maintain and strive to develop their professional knowledge, skill and expertise throughout their careers and shall take advantage of interaction with their colleagues to broaden their experience.
    2. Members should strive to represent the profession with honesty and integrity.
    3. Members must only perform or participate in those procedures that are within their competency and for which they are appropriately qualified and refer those patients whose needs or requires are outside their competency.
    4. Members should be fully insured to protect themselves and their clients.
    5. In their relations with other professional colleagues, members shall respect their dignity and professional standing and shall do nothing directly or indirectly to injure maliciously their reputation, practice, employment or livelihood.
    6. Members should work within the ethical criteria and ethos of the profession.
  5. If a practitioners has reason to believe that a colleague is behaving in an unprofessional manner, or that his or her standard of practice falls substantially below acceptable standards, then if practicable, the colleague must be approached in a helpful way, If this is impracticable, then the matter must be reported to the Ethics Committee of Amatsu Therapy Ireland.
  6. A practitioner must immediately advise OMA if they are convicted of a criminal offence or have an official complaint made against them in another jurisdiction.
  7. Members shall co-operate with any reasonable request made by an investigative and disciplinary panel or the appeal board for the purposes of their functions under the OMA Disciplinary code.

3. Guidance Notes

Development of Skills and limits of competence

The Code of Ethics requires members to maintain the highest level of responsibility in their practice, while maintaining their skills through the requisite continuing professional development requirements.

OMA encourages members to take all reasonable steps to monitor, develop and advance their professional competence to the highest level and to work within that competence.

Relations with other health practitioners

Practitioner should be aware of the forms of treatment of other complementary disciplines/therapies/techniques to facilitate co–operation between all the professional services that may be involved.

Working within Established Medical Premises

The doctor in charge will usually retain overall charge of the client’s case and will give permission for the treatment to be delegated to the practitioner.

Where the practitioner is a nurse, they should take account of their ethical responsibilities to the nursing profession, and act only under the guidance of the ward management.

Practitioners who are not nurses but work at established medical premises must, at all times, act discreetly and considerately taking the greatest care to consult with staff in charge and to avoid any action or behaviour that could obstruct or conflict with the work of other health professionals.


Practitioners are required to make a diagnosis within the terms of the relevant therapy discipline, determine a programme of treatment where appropriate and/or refer a client on to another health professional.

The practitioner will use a number of techniques to assess the presenting symptoms of the client, the underlying causes and the potential treatment which may be appropriate. IF the client brings a medical history based on a series of allopathic diagnoses, which will serve to provide an indication of a named condition, the practitioner will need to assess the case from different criteria and no attempt should be made to describe a Complementary diagnosis in allopathic terms unless the practitioner is so qualified.

Practitioners who wish to refer clients for an allopathic diagnosis or tests should exercise care in the way in which they describe their appreciation of the presenting symptoms. For example: the practitioner may find that the client’s Tatara might indicate torsion or weakness in the knee, but it may be outside their competence to put an allopathic medical name i.e. torn cruciate ligament, on the condition.

Distinction should be made, wherever possible, between potentially life-threatening conditions, acute and chronic states and need to refer clients for medical assessment especially where life threatening conditions are suspected.

Relations with Clients

Practitioners should ensure that the client understands what the treatment entails in advance of starting to treat. Any risks should be clearly described. It is not possible to guarantee the outcome of any course of treatment, therefore the terms on which it is offered should be clearly stated and a consent form completed and signed by the clients before the first session of treatment. Post treatment advice should also be given where appropriate.

The charge for the initial consultation and subsequent treatments must be made clear prior to commencement of treatment.

When practitioners offer treatment without payment of a fee they work under the same professional obligation t the client as when a fee is paid.

Practitioners must take all reasonable steps to ensure client safety and ensure their practice conforms to health regulations as appropriate.

Clients should be warned when a specific treatment requires the removal of clothing and the treatment should only be undertaken with the clients’ full consent. Practitioners must appreciate the client’s need for privacy and modesty and allow them to have another person of their choice present if they so wish.

Consideration of a clients comfort – e.g. pain level and warmth, should be taken at all times.

Clients may have different opinions on intrusive touch in sensitive areas. The practitioner must ask the client for and be given permission to touch. Where clients are sensitive – this permission may need to be sought on more than one occasion and should be requested until the client is comfortable with the requirement.

The practitioner retains the right to refuse to treat a client.

The practitioner must always be prepared to justify the course of any treatment and their actions therein to the client and if appropriate to the OMA.


The practitioner should recognise the client’s right to have confidential information kept secure and private.

Clients have the right to expect that information given in confidence will be used only for the purpose for which it as given and will not be released to others without their permission.

Clients may enquire about the standards of confidentiality maintained by their practitioner.

When working as part of a health care team, it may be impractical to obtain the consent of the client every time there is a need to share information with other health professionals or other staff involved in the health care of the client. It is important that the client understands that some information may be available to others involved in the delivery of their care. The client must know who the information will be shared with.

If it is appropriate to share information with other health or social work professionals, the practitioner should highlight the need for the information to be treated as private and confidential, and for it to be used only for the purpose for which the information was given.

In most circumstances you should obtain the explicit consent of a client before disclosing specific information. The clients must be able to make an informed response as to whether that information can be disclosed. Disclosure of information may occur:

  • With the consent of the client.
  • With the consent of the client when disclosure is required by law or by order of a court.
  • Without the consent of the client when the disclosure is considered to be necessary in the public interest.

The public interest means the interests of an individual, or group of individuals or of society as a whole and would for example cover matters such as serious crime, child abuse, drug trafficking or other activities which place others at serious risk.

The death of a client does not change the practitioner’s confidentiality agreement with their client, and does not give the practitioner the right to break confidentiality.

Confidentiality should only be broken in exceptional circumstances and after careful consideration. It is advisable to keep a written record of the circumstances as justification for the action taken as contemporaneous notes are always valuable when a review is required.

Any practitioner faced with a question of breaking confidentiality may seek guidance from other professional colleagues and/or OMA.


At the first consultation a consent form should be completed, signed and kept as a documentary record of the client’s agreement for assessment and treatment using appropriate therapy techniques.

  • Be aware this form does not form a legal waiver, and if a client for example receives insufficient information on which to make a decision, then the consent form although signed may be invalid.
  • The form also serves as a reminder of what has been discussed, however the written information should not be regarded as a replacement for verbal communication and discussion.

Everyone aged sixteen and over is presumed competent to give consent, unless it can be demonstrated otherwise.

  • Children under the age of 16 years should not be examined except in the presence of a parent or guardian or other responsible adult. Written consent must also be given.

If a client is over eighteen and is not legally competent to give consent, treatment should NOT be provided. A client is not legally competent to consent if:

  • They are unable to comprehend and retain information material to making the decision for treatment and/or they are unable to weigh and use this information in making a decision.

Data Protection Act

Practitioners should inform themselves of the legislation in relation to storing and providing access to information within their practice.

Clients may ask to see their records, and you may charge an administration fee to cover any costs.

Practitioners should ensure that the storage and movement of records does not put the confidentiality of client information at risk.

Clinical Practice

Practitioners should document the client’s medical history and take notes of individual treatments for each client. They should record observations, results and clinical data methodically.

Practitioners should not use medical titles unless they are registered physicians in their country of practice. Practitioners who are not registered physicians but are entitled to use the term ‘doctor’ may state is after their name with appropriate qualification i.e. doctor of Acupuncture, China.

Practitioners should refer clients to another practitioner if:

  • They consider the case is beyond their technique, capacity or skill, the client should be consulted/advised and introduced to the new practitioner
  • If they require advice from a more senior practitioner.
  • Full details of the medical history should be provided, with the date and details of all treatments given.

Practitioner Preparation

As practitioners touch clients, every consideration for the health and safety of clients should be given, including ensure there can be no transfer of body fluids through open wounds, clinics are clean and appropriately disinfected if there is any suspected contamination.

Advertising and Announcements

Practitioners may advertise a practice or service, exercising care that nothing is said or implied that would discredit their therapy or OMA.

The following guidelines must be observed:

  • Stationery and nameplates should contain the minimal information needed to be descriptive but make no claims as to the quality or effectiveness.
  • Professional announcements in the media shall contain name, profession, qualifications, practice title, times of surgeries and addresses.
  • Practitioners are advised to use their first name or other indication of their gender with the surname(s).

Only professional qualifications from accepted organisations or Degrees conferred by established Universities should be displayed in practices. Qualifications from outside the jurisdiction should be accompanied by the country of origin i.e. Mr Joseph Bloggs, Doctor of Acupuncture (Beijing), MBRCP (Osteopathy).

Practitioners may add the letters MOMA to their name. Practitioners may print the title in full if they wish i.e. Member of Oriental Medicine Association.

Only Executive Committee membership may use the OMA official logo on letterheads and stationery to provide a statement or a response from the OMA.

Public Statements and Demonstrations

Practitioners are advised that they must exercise care in making any public statement and should not present any facts or opinions purporting to represent the views of OMA without obtaining written consent from the Ethics Committee. The OMA researches the right to examine any material before giving such consent.

Death or Retirement of a Practitioner

Practitioners should make arrangements for the correct disposal of case records in the event of their death. Executors are advised to contact the OMA for advice.

Practitioners who sell or otherwise transfer their interest in a practice must inform all their clients of the change and thieve the name of the practitioner to be responsible for their treatment.

Client information shall not be provided to the incoming practitioners without the permission of the client.

Discipline and Complaints

  1. A complaint is any notification in writing to the Secretary that a member of the association, by any act or omission has conducted himself/herself in a manner contrary to the objects of OMA.
  2. There shall be two levels of response to a complaint, referral or otherwise, regarding an Association member. Following each AGM the Executive Committee will appoint both a Disciplinary subcommittee and an Appeals subcommittee.
  3. Each of these subcommittees shall be formed as required to deal with disputes, complaints, discipline, suspension and expulsions following receipt by the Secretary of a written complaint regarding an Association member.
  4. Disciplinary Subcommittee: The disciplinary subcommittee will consist of three registered members who may or may not be members of the OMA Executive Committee. The Disciplinary Subcommittee, under direction from the Executive Committee, shall have power to deal with any matter in such a manner, as it may deem advisable in the circumstances of each particular case.
    1. OMA shall, by resolution of the Disciplinary Subcommittee, notify the member concerned, in writing, at the last address of that member notified to OMA that the Disciplinary Subcommittee has received a complaint which must be investigated – this notification shall include an invitation to the members to respond in writing to the stated grounds for termination of other disciplinary action, and a requirement that such response be received by OMA within ten working days of the notification being sent to the member.
    2. The Disciplinary Subcommittee shall consider the member’s response, if any, and any other relevant evidence, and resolve either that there are sufficient grounds for termination of membership or other disciplinary action, or that there are not, and shall have the power to terminate membership or apply disciplinary measures other than termination if they deem it appropriate.
    3. Disciplinary measures may include but are not restricted to a temporary suspension or a requirement that the member undergo further training with a designated Accredited Training Provider.
    4. OMA shall advise the member promptly in writing of the decision of the disciplinary committee. If the decision is that membership be terminated or that other disciplinary measures be applied, the grounds for termination or other disciplinary measures shall be stated and the member shall be notified of the correct appeal procedure.
    5. If no response is received from the member within the appeal period membership shall cease at the expiry of that period or such other disciplinary measures as have been determined shall take effect. vii. If the member elects to appeal, his or her membership commitments shall continue until the appeal procedure has been concluded.
    6. A report from the Disciplinary Committee will be made to the OMA Executive Committee noting the charge, findings and action taken. The Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee shall release sufficient information as may be required by the Executive Committee for ratification.
  5. Appeals Subcommittee: The Appeals Subcommittee will compromise three persons, at least two of whom shall be association members.
    In considering any appeal the Appeals Subcommittee shall adopt the procedure set out below

    1. Appeals against decisions by the Disciplinary Subcommittee or the Council in respect of discipline or accreditation shall be referred to the Appeals Subcommittee.
    2. In any case referred to it the decision of the Appeals Subcommittee shall be final.
    3. If a member wishes to appeal a decision of the Disciplinary Subcommittee or the Executive Committee in respect of discipline or accreditation, notification of such wish to appeal must reach OMA not later than 10 working days following notification of the decision of the Disciplinary Subcommittee or the Executive Committee.
    4. A date shall be set by the Appeals Subcommittee to hear the appeal not less than 21 days or more than 42 days after such notification is received by OMA and the Appeals Subcommittee shall notify the members immediately of the date, place and time that the appeal is to be heard.
    5. A member may elect to present his or her case in person before the Appeals Subcommittee, or be represented or accompanied by some other person.
    6. The Appeals Committee may by resolution, and only on the grounds already notified to the member, confirm the termination of membership or any other disciplinary measure or vary either of these as it shall consider appropriate. The member shall be promptly sent a copy of the resolution and the grounds for such resolution.


Physical practitioners use touch so every care should be taken with the condition of their hands.

  • In the even of any cut, abrasion or skin condition, latex gloves should be worn.
  • Gloves should be discarded after every treatment of a client.
  • Hands must be washed thoroughly after every client, this applies whether gloves have been worn or not.

Any waterproof dressing must be changed after each individual treatment.

Attire should include washable or disposable clothing.

Hair should not come into contact with the client.

Jewellery should be removed or covered.

Nails should be clean and short.

Practice Preparation

Practitioners must conduct their practices at the highest professional standard in their personal appearance, hygiene and appropriate decorum.

Overall cleanliness of the clinic must be maintained on a daily basis.

An appropriate dilution of disinfectant must be used after any suspected contamination.

The premises must be adequately furnished, heated when appropriate and provide hand washing facilities.

Where appropriate, clean towels are to be made available for clients.

The consulting room should be fully insulated for sound from the waiting area.

Ensure the couch is clean and covered by fresh paper or other for each client.

Ensure there is an accident book to record any unusual incident.

All relevant Health and Safety at work procedures must be adhered to.