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I suffered pneumothorax secondary to acupuncture by a well trained medical doctor.

Q: I suffered pneumothorax secondary to accupuncture by a well trained medical doctor. The needle entered my plural space collapsing my right lung. Could this be due to a history of bronchitis? Is there documentation on PTSA? 

Q: We are always reluctant to make too definite a comment in cases such as this where there may be a possibility of either conduct proceedings or insurance claims in which we may be formally asked for a view. Without knowing a great deal more about the details of the case we can only offer a general view.

 This is that we advise members who are treating people using points around the thorax to be especially careful with the old, frail and those with a history of bronchial disease in any form, as well as with those who are seriously underweight in eating disorders. In all of these categories of patient there is a risk that the pleural cavity is a great deal nearer the skin surface than usual, and although most indications for the use of points on the thorax are for shallow insertion of the needle at an oblique angle, there are a number of points which we would consider high risk even then.

 That said, we would always, should a case arise, want to examine very closely the circumstances which led to the pneumothorax. There have been very few reported cases in the traditional acupuncture world in the last twenty years, and in one of two of this handful there was a suggestion that there may have been a spontaneous pneumothorax. This can happen, and with over 4 million treatments a year coincidences can happen.

 However, it is usually unmistakable when the cause and effect are pretty much close together, and the only issues to settle then are whether there are questions of competence or negligence to address, and then whether there is an insurance claim which can be made for the injury. As we said above, there are occasions when we are asked for a professional view as expert witnesses, so we tend to avoid specific comment about culpability, especially without knowing a great deal more than a brief outline.

 If you do come back to us with a clarification about what you intended by PTSA in your question we shall naturally respond as soon as we can.

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