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Acupuncturists practice the traditional Chinese medical art of acupuncture and insert thin needles into specific points on the body to modify physiological functions. Acupuncturists focus on the patient’s total well being by balancing and redirecting the flow of energy through the mind and body.
Currently, there are about 18,000 licensed acupuncturists in the United States.
To become an acupuncturist, students must attend an undergraduate institution and graduate with a degree in a field of science. Students will go on to complete a graduate-level acupuncture program.
Currently, there are 50 schools accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) to offer master’s degrees in acupuncture. These graduate degrees take between 2 and 3 years to complete, and will allow students to develop skills in bodywork therapy, herbal medicine, needle techniques, clinical practices and Qigong, the ancient Chinese health care system that uses physical positions and breathing techniques to promote Qi or life force.
Most states require acupuncturists to earn accreditation through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) to practice as an acupuncturist.
To gain accreditation, acupuncturists must graduate from an accredited graduate program and pass an examination. Accreditation is valid for 4 years, and acupuncturists can maintain accreditation by meeting professional requirements, taking continued education classes, and by re-taking the exam.
Where Acupuncturists Work
Most acupuncturists work out of private practices or group clinics. Very few acupuncturists work out of a doctor’s office or hospital.
How Acupuncturists Help People
Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old traditional Chinese health technique that dates back thousands of years. Acupuncture does not focus on biological and chemical processes in the body like Western medicine but instead focuses on balancing the energy, or Qi (pronounced chee) in the body.
The goal of acupuncture is to balance Qi, or the life-force or vital energy of the body and to redirect that energy when one part of the body suffers. This energy flows on specific pathways in the body called meridians. The constant flow of this energy keeps the opposing forces of yin and yang in balance.
Acupuncture has become more widely adopted by the scientific community and is now covered by many insurance plans. Medical studies have proven the ability of acupuncture to improve sleep, reduce pain, improve digestive function, and promote a sense of well-being.
Acupuncturists will meet with patients and discuss physical and psychological conditions of the patient. The acupuncturist will examine the patient’s tongue, another important aspect of Chinese medicine, and may perform a physical examination of the patient. The acupuncturist will create a treatment plan for the patient.
During acupuncture treatment, the patient will lay on a table or sit in a chair, depending on the site of the treatment. The acupuncturists will gently place thin needles into precise acupoints on the body that will help the patient’s condition. The needles will remain in the patient between 5 and 30 minutes before being removed.
The number of treatments will depend on the condition and preference of the patient. Some patients experience relief in the first treatment, others continue with regular treatments.
Acupuncturists treat conditions including:
- Neck pain
- Cancer pain
- Knee pain
- Spine pain
- Lower back pain
- Facial pain
- Joint pain
- Tobacco dependence
Acupuncturists also provide treatments like:
- Moxibustion, or burning herbs to help needle insertion sites
- Electro-acupuncture, using electric currents to simulate insertion points
- Acupressure, using pressing to relax muscles
- Cupping, using suction to increase blood flow and promote healing
The average salary of acupuncturists is $72,870.
Acupuncture Negligence In Baltimore
Acupuncture is growing in popularity, but clinical studies do not always support health claims of acupuncture. The most common form of malpractice in acupuncture is misleading patients to believe that acupuncture suffices as a medical treatment and failing to refer patients to medical doctors.
On a case-by-case basis, acupuncture may improve conditions like insomnia or arthritis, but larger claims of acupuncture treating cancer and major diseases are not supported by medical evidence. If an acupuncturist notices a medical problem in a patient that requires the attention of a doctor, the acupuncturist has a duty to communicate that to the patient.
Malpractice claims in acupuncture sometimes involve the quality and condition of the medical equipment used. Acupuncturists are responsible for sterilizing needles after use and making sure all needles are removed and do not harm the patient. Unsterilized needles can spread dangerous infections to patients.
Acupuncturists can also be held responsible for using incorrect techniques when performing procedures. Improper use of needles can lead to nerve damage, increased pain, and other conditions.
Maryland Acupuncture Malpractice Attorneys
When an acupuncturist breaches the standard of care and provides negligent treatment to patients, the acupuncturist can be held liable for damages.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury while under the care of an acupuncturist, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Pursuing a malpractice claim in acupuncture can be very difficult, but an experienced medical malpractice attorney can review your case and determine instances of negligence.
Call (800) 529-6162 today to begin your case and to learn more about your legal options.