New Zealand acupuncturist punctures woman's lungs by pushing needles in too far

A woman has suffered two punctured lungs while undergoing acupuncture at a New Zealand clinic.

On Monday, Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill released a report finding the acupuncturist in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights (the Code) for failures in care when providing acupuncture to her client.

The woman's lungs were punctured when the acupuncturist performed needling to the "jian jing" points on both of the woman's shoulders. 

Acupuncture is this area carries a known risk of pneumothorax (a collapsed lung). The placement of the needles is situated in close proximity with the lungs, meaning all clients should give their informed consent to the procedure.

Hill found the woman was not adequately informed of the risks associated with the needle placement, and did not give her informed consent to the practitioner.

The acupuncturist is believed to have inserted the needles too deeply into the woman's jian jing points. Following the procedure, the woman felt "uncomfortable" pain and numbness in her chest. It was later found that both of her lungs were punctured.

"The acupuncturist did not take appropriate care... and failed to recognise that her symptoms may have been caused by a pneumothorax, and therefore did not provide services with reasonable care and skill," said the Health and Disability Commissioner.

However, the acupuncture clinic has not been found in breach of the Code.

The acupuncturist has been recommended to further their training in acupuncture techniques and has been advised on informed consent. The clinic has also been advised to consider implementing policies and procedures regarding informed client consent.


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