Acupuncturist punctures patient's lungs after inserting needles too deep

She then sent woman home without realising she had burst organs

Colin Drury
Monday 09 September 2019 11:53

An acupuncturist punctured a patient’s lungs after inserting the needles too far when treating a woman’s arm and wrist injury.

The unnamed New Zealand acupuncturist then sent the woman home without realising she’d burst a hole in the organs.

It was only when the patient later found herself struggling to breathe and had her husband take her to hospital that the internal wound was discovered.

She ended up being diagnosed with bilateral apical pneumothoraces caused by the burst.

The incident in March 2018 was revealed on Monday when New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill released a report finding the acupuncturist to be in breach of the country’s Health and Disability Consumers’ Rights code.

Mr Hill criticised her for failing to tell the patient there was a risk of a collapsed lung and for not getting written consent before she carried out needling to the notoriously risky jian jing points.

He further questioned why, following the incident, she did not realise she had punctured the lungs – even after the patient complained of pain in her chest.

“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,” he said.

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His report recommended the acupuncturist carry out further training and said the clinic where she should develop formal policies ensuring consent is always obtained from clients.

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