Acupuncture Continuing Education

Safety In Acupuncture #4

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Sample 1:

Preventable medical errors is one of the biggest concerns presently affecting US healthcare. Preventable Medical Errors include such things as adverse events (AEs), adverse drug events (ADEs), fatal drug events, misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment or surgery, failure to treat, treating the wrong patient, and preventable infections and deaths. These outcomes occur in clinics and institutions due to error and neglect. According HealthGrades, a leading third party evaluator of hospitals and resource for health professionals, nearly 1 million patient-safety incidents occurred in US hospitals between 2006 – 2008. The cost of preventable medical errors in hospitals is about $9 billion annually...

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Sample 2:

Legal Duty of Care
It is important to understand that the legal relationship between an acupuncturist and patient is contractual and voluntary. The acupuncturist can determine whom he or she will enter into an agreement with to provide care. Once an agreement has been established, the acupuncturist also has a legal duty to act with the due care and skill of a responsible healthcare provider in similar circumstances. With respect to duty of care, all practitioners are subject to both criminal and civil law; however...

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Sample 3:

Negligence claims are more common in the acupuncture setting and are more likely to result in error than trespassing claims. Negligent acts are those mistakes a practitioner makes outside the standard expected of a reasonable practitioner under similar circumstances. All mistakes are not necessarily negligent. Moreover, negligent acts involve unintended mistakes while criminal acts involve intent.

In a negligent claim, the burden of proof lies with the patient to prove the:

• Practitioner owed the patient a duty of care
• Practitioner breached the duty
• Breach of duty caused the patient harm

Practitioners can be held negligent by either commission or omission...

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Sample 4: 

The Medical Insurance Exchange of California (MIEC) reports that 17% of all claims against acupuncturists in 2005 – 2014 were for patients sustaining a burn injury. Out of the 17% total, 11% of burns were caused by infrared heat lamps, 4% due to indirect moxibustion, and 2% were due to hot stone massage. [1] The MIEC recommends that placement of a heat lamp should be such that, in case of a malfunction, the lamp will not come into contact with the patient. Consider some of the following issues with heat lamps:

• unstable base or stand
• overextended heat lamp adjustment arm
• inadequate screen (protective guard) between heating element or bulb and the patient
• a power cord that may be tripped over
• heat source too close to patient’s skin

The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) notes “It is imperative that a TDP lamp be monitored carefully when in use and that unexpected movements of the heating element be prevented. Some lamps may slowly lower during the course of a treatment, resulting in a burn over the area being warmed. Mechanical failure of the heat lamp itself may occur during treatment allowing the arm and heating element to rapidly descend near or onto the patient’s skin.” [2]

1. MIEC, Point of Exchange, July 2015. Burn injury claims resulting from indirect moxibustion and TDP lamps.
2. Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), 2014.

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