Earlier this week the Health and Disabilities Commission released their report of a case in which a person experienced a bilateral pneumothorax after acupuncture treatment. This was widely reported in the media both here in New Zealand and internationally.
Whilst the practitioner was not a member of Acupuncture NZ, the seriousness of the case is a timely reminder to all members of the importance of explaining treatment and obtaining informed consent for every part of the treatment being provided. It is also a reminder to practitioners to always take into consideration the size and weight of every patient when needling points on the chest and shoulders - deep needling is to be avoided especially for those of a slight build - so as to avoid the risk of causing a pneumothorax.
Acupuncture NZ will be working with members over coming months to refresh knowledge about needle technique, informed consent, documentation and what to do if a pneumothorax is suspected. These details can be found in our Guide to Clinical Practice in the Members section of the website.
Whilst a pneumothorax from acupuncture is a serious event, it is fortunately very rare. Only three others have been reported on by the Health and Disabilities Commission since 2003 - one each by a physiotherapist, an acupuncturist and a GP.
Acupuncture NZ President, Robin Kerr, was interviewed about the incident on Radio New Zealand on Thursday morning. The link is below.
The full report is available on the Health and Disabilities Commission website.