Acupuncturists are medical practitioners who use needles to pierce muscles and tissue in order to relieve pressure and stress. Their branch of medicine is one of the oldest in the world as is a staple of traditional Chinese medicine. Experts think that acupuncture was being performed as early as 100 B.C.
Relying more on tradition and a patient's feeling of wellbeing rather than empirical evidence, acupuncture has its detractors and nonbelievers. However, even followers of acupuncture know that mistakes can be made and serious harm can be done if an acupuncturist commits medical malpractice.
Education and Licensing Requirements for Acupuncturists in Philadelphia
Interested acupuncturists have to complete an undergraduate degree in college as well as a science-based graduate degree to be able to enroll in courses accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). These graduate degrees take two or three years to complete and involve classes in herbal medicine, needle techniques, and ancient Chinese healthcare.
To be licensed to practice in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania, acupuncturists have to pass three exams:
- Foundations of Oriental Medicine Exam
- Acupuncture with Point Location Exam
- Chinese Herbology Exam
Licenses last for four years in Pennsylvania before they have to be renewed.
The Practice of Acupuncture
Acupuncture focuses on centering the life force of Qi (pronounced “chee”) in the body. By pressing thin needles into specific “acupoints” in the body, acupuncturists redirect Qi towards parts of the body that are under stress or have been injured.
Acupuncture sessions often last around an hour and involve the acupuncturist pressing needles into a patient and leaving them inserted for between 5 and 30 minutes. Medical researchers have found acupuncture patients have benefited from the practice as a treatment for:
- Neck pain
- Chronic pain
- Stress and hypertension
Some insurance companies have begun covering acupuncture sessions.
Acupuncture and Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice happens whenever a healthcare provider's medical care falls below the standard of care they are expected to provide.
There are some clear-cut instances of medical malpractice in the field of acupuncture. One example is using acupuncture needles that have not been sterilized. This can transmit diseases from one patient to another or cause an infection that requires extensive medical attention. Another clear example of medical malpractice is when an acupuncturist leaves a needle inside a patient after their session has ended.
However, there are also numerous gray areas in acupuncture practice that could be malpractice, but also might not be. The nontraditional care that acupuncturists provide and the lack of empirical and scientific evidence can make some of these situations tricky. For example, if an acupuncturist notices a serious medical condition that requires a doctor's attention, they may have to refer a patient out of their care rather than try to treat it themselves.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
If you have had acupuncture sessions and gotten hurt, you may have been the victim of medical malpractice. Contact the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian online to see if you have a case.