Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Doctors' society puts the spotlight on acupuncturists

DANGEROUS STUFF One man who reportedly received acupuncture for an aching shoulder blade ended up with a serious staphylococcus infection

By Hung Su-ching  /  STAFF REPORTER

The National Union of Chinese Medical Doctors has recently released a list of acupuncture clinics that conform to the association's standards for quality and hygiene.

Acupuncture has gained popularity in recent years for problems such as muscle aches and pains, but until now there has been a dearth of objective information to assist patients in choosing a suitable practitioner.

Under a qualified practitioner, complications from acupuncture are rare. However, there have been reports in recent years of serious infections, and even death, from unclean needles.

One man who reportedly received acupuncture for an aching shoulder blade ended up with a staphylococcus infection while another case resulted in death through acute septicima.

Lin I-hsin (林宜信), chair of the health department of the Committee of Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, said the country's traditional medicine community has been pushing for standardization of safety procedures for acupuncturists in order to boost patient confidence.

To stem the risk of infections, best practice procedures call for frequent hand-washing and disinfection of the skin prior to piecing with needles. In addition, only sterilized, disposable needles are used.

Of the more than 2,500 traditional medicine clinics covered by the National Health Insurance scheme, 1,800 have received the seal of approval.

In addition to the standardized procedures for acupuncture, clinics are judged by more than thirty other criteria relating to quality of medical care.

Those in need of a qualified acupuncturist can look online at www.nhi.gov.tw.

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