New York City Acupuncture Mistakes Lawyer
The New York State Education Department’s Office of the Professions defines an acupuncturist as “a licensed health care professional who, based on the concepts of oriental medicine, maintains the health of patients and evaluates and treats their illness and pain.” The practice of acupuncture involves inserting a number of very fine needles at various points on your body. Sometimes, these needles are heated before or during insertion or are made to conduct electrical stimulation into your body.
Some people feel that acupuncture can help them treat their headaches, chronic pain or other health conditions. While acupuncture may range from the helpful to the harmless, acupuncturists can also cause serious injury by the way they operate and the mistakes they make. New York City medical malpractice attorney Michael Gunzburg holds healthcare professionals liable for the harm caused by their preventable errors. If you’ve been hurt by acupuncture errors in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens, call Michael Gunzburg, P.C., for a no-cost, confidential consultation regarding your potential claims.
Are Acupuncturists Medical Professionals?
Acupuncturists are licensed by the State of New York after completing a three-year professional training program in acupuncture and a minimum of two years of college, as well as passing a licensing examination approved by the state. You will know the acupuncturist is licensed by the state if they use the designation L.Ac. after their name, indicating Licensed Acupuncturist. If they refer to themselves as a doctor but do not have an M.D., they must indicate the type of degree they do hold, such as a DAOM (Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). Acupuncturists are licensed professionals who likely carry malpractice liability insurance.
Can Acupuncture Be Harmful?
According to the American Acupuncture Council, acupuncture “can be an invasive process when not implemented appropriately.” One health risk related to acupuncture mistakes is the risk of infection. Any time the skin is broken, you run the risk of acquiring an infection from a bacterium, virus, fungus or parasite entering the body. Standard practice should include sterilizing the insertion points on the body with an alcohol wipe and ensuring all equipment and surfaces are properly sanitized. Hopefully, the acupuncturist is using single-use, disposable, sterile needles. Otherwise, the risk of contamination or infection is high. Failing to follow proper sanitary practices is a serious mistake, and acupuncturists can be held liable for any harm that results.
Acupuncturists can also harm patients if they are not properly trained or perform acupuncture negligently or incompetently. Needles inserted too deeply or in the wrong spot could cause nerve damage, puncture or perforate a vital organ, or collapse a lung. These injuries from acupuncture are rare but possible.
One of the most significant mistakes an acupuncturist can make is the failure to refer a patient to a medical doctor or specialist. Unless they are also physicians, acupuncturists are not qualified to diagnose cancer, but they are in a position to examine a patient’s skin and point out any moles, discolorations or other areas of concern. Skin cancers are the most common type of cancer by a wide margin. Melanomas are first detected by skin exams. If detected early, melanoma can often be cured. If they go undetected and are allowed to progress, however, they can be fatal. Melanoma is, in fact, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
New York law requires the acupuncturist to advise you on the importance of seeing a physician. You should be given a form to sign that acknowledges the acupuncturist gave you this advice. Similarly, an acupuncturist should not treat you without first getting your informed consent, meaning you are told about the risks as well as the benefits of the proposed treatment. If you wind up with an infection or other injury after acupuncture that you weren’t told about, you might have a malpractice claim if a reasonable person would have refused the treatment after being informed of the risk.
Help With Acupuncture Malpractice Claims in New York City
If you were injured by an acupuncturist mistake in New York City, call Michael Gunzburg, P.C. at 212-725-8500 for a free consultation.