Acupuncture Injury Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an acupuncture injury, we can help.

If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor

You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.

Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove the negligence happened. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses.

We can help you make a medical negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

In this article

Introduction

Each year, around 2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out in the UK. Most of them are completed without incident. However, research suggests that up to 10% of patients will suffer an acupuncture-related adverse event, with injuries ranging from severe bruising to permanent tissue damage.

Acupuncture is a self-regulating industry, and no formal training or qualifications are necessary for those offering acupuncture services. It is possible that some practitioners are not competent to carry out treatment.

Anyone who suffers an illness or injury after receiving substandard acupuncture treatment may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a therapy derived from Chinese medicine. During treatment, fine needles are inserted at certain sites in a patient's body to stimulate nerve endings and encourage the release of pain-relieving endorphins.

While often seen as a form of alternative medicine, acupuncture is widely prescribed by the NHS as a treatment for chronic pain of the lower back. Thousands of private patients also turn to acupuncture each year to address ailments including headaches, toothache, allergic reactions, depression and infertility.

Side effects of acupuncture

When carried out by a skilled practitioner, acupuncture is usually very safe. Adverse side effects tend to be mild and short-lived. These include pain and bruising at the puncture site, drowsiness and feeling sick, dizzy or faint immediately after treatment.

However, serious adverse events can also occur, including:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Abnormal bruising and bleeding
  • Abscesses
  • Blood-borne infections
  • Nerve damage
  • Collapsed lungs caused by needles penetrating the patient's chest.

Serious complications from acupuncture are rare. They usually occur as the result of negligent treatment, carried out by an acupuncture practitioner who has not been properly trained or who does not ensure the proper cleanliness of premises, instruments and equipment.

Regulation of the acupuncture industry

There is no statutory regulation of non-medical acupuncture in the UK. In theory, anyone can offer acupuncture treatment regardless of their level of training or expertise.

However, most practitioners are required to register with their local authority and submit to regular hygiene inspections in order to reduce the risk of infection. There are also a number of acupuncture organisations in the UK which require their members to work according to certain codes of practice. These include The British Medical Acupuncture Society, the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, and the British Acupuncture Council.

Practitioners are also required to comply with various health and safety legislation regarding needle sterilisation, hand washing and the safe disposal of clinical waste to avoid needlestick injuries.

Making an acupuncture injury claim

A reasonable level of competence is expected from all those offering acupuncture treatments, regardless of whether they are medically qualified. Practitioners are expected to conduct a thorough medical examination to determine suitability for treatment, warn the patient of the risks involved with the procedure and maintain high standards of hygiene at all times.

Where a practitioner fails to meet these standards and causes harm to a patient, it will often be possible for the patient to claim compensation.

What if there is no evidence?

Evidence can take the form of eyewitness accounts, CCTV footage, photographs etc. It will be difficult to win an acupuncture injury claim with no evidence at all. You may feel that there is no evidence but a solictor may well be able to assist in collating evidence that you, as a claimant, were unaware of.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor