Across North American people are becoming increasingly more open minded about natural healing remedies, as they continue in larger numbers to seek out alternative medical treatments, the traditional art of acupuncture is becoming more widely sought after by individuals who are fed-up with ailments and not receiving satisfactory results from their physicians. This is great news for the skilled acupuncturists who operate in this country; there is no doubt that population trend towards alternative medicine has benefited their acupuncture practices. However, as more clients arrive in their offices the increase potential for acupuncture malpractice suits are also significantly more likely. This is largely because as a larger amount of patients flock to acupuncture facilities for their services, the likelihood of an incident or accident occurring increases this is just pure mathematics. However, the biggest concern regarding the increase in demand for acupuncture treatment is actually the worry about fraudulent malpractice suits or patients arriving who simply do not understand the process or procedures that acupuncture is based on. These misunderstandings can lead to lawsuits against the individual performing the acupuncture because they have not been diligent in explaining the procedure or preparing the individuals for the potential side effects that may occur immediately after receiving treatment.
What Your Patient Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Them!
It is extremely important that new patients are informed about the risks and side effects that may occur when they receive any sort of acupuncture. It is in your best interest as the acupuncturist to provide the client with a consent form that goes over all of the associated risks and aftermath so that they can make an informed decision. Before you proceed with the acupuncture treatment you will want to have the patient verbally express there acknowledgment as well as sign the consent forms confirming their understanding and initialing that you have explained to them fully what the process requires. If they have any questions regarding the procedure this will be the time to address them and if they wish to decline treatment, they should also be given the opportunity to do so.
Discussing Common Side Effects
If you have not yet done so, you may wish to begin handing out written materials that go over the common side effects that are associated with acupuncture treatment during and immediately following the procedure. Many people, may rush to the conclusion that they are experience abnormal phenomenon when they leave the office if they have not been prepared or provided the proper information. These patients may then rush out and begin a malpractice suit against you, the acupuncturist simply because they were not well informed. This is something that you need to be prepared to deal with and should have insurance for, just in case the claims are confirmed to be legitimated. That said, a simple hand out that defines the common side effects (and the potential rare ones) could help reduce the risk level of this occurring. If a patient is unsatisfied with the results of there treatment you can direct them to the correct information that they have consented too in the consultation process protecting yourself and your assets, while also making an effort to keep your patients calm and well informed.
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The American Acupuncture Council Provides Malpractice Insurance
A List of Normal Acupuncture Side Effects:
Following a session of acupuncture the patient may feel fatigued or tired. This is actually a positive sign that the acupuncture is working. It is best that your recommend rest and relaxation following a treatment. If a patient appears particularly exhausted suggest that they phone a taxi or call a family member to drive them.
The body parts that have received the needles during the acupuncture session will feel sore for a few days, but residual or unexpected soreness can actually help identify trigger points or underlying medical issues. Have you patient inform you if they are experiencing any abnormal soreness (in areas that did not receive the needles) at their next appointment, or to phone in if the soreness proceeds for an extended amount of time.
Most of the time bruising should not occur if the acupuncture has been properly applied, however you should inform your patient that it is a possibility and nothing to be confirmed with. The best way to avoid this is to keep the dialogue open during treatment, have your patient inform you if you applying to much pressure or hurting them in any way.
As unpleasant and shocking, as it may be most people experience some sort of muscle twitching or spasm during or following acupuncture sessions. Make sure that you mention it is normal and once again check for your patient’s level of comfort during the treatment process.
Rarely, patients may faint after their treatment or experience extreme lightheadedness. Watch for this in new patients and recommend that they do not stand up too quickly or leave immediately after there session. It is important that you tell your patient that this is a possibility and observe them carefully after their first appointment.
For many acupuncture can also be an emotional experience, not just physical. Patients can cry and feel a variety of emotional releases throughout there treatment. If this emotional state continues following the treatment so much so that the patient feels traumatized or depressed this should be noted. Although acupuncture holds many benefits for people, a select few may find the experience to overwhelming and their treatment should be discontinued in order to avoid a potential lawsuit.
Why Acupuncturists Should Carry Insurance
It is important that acupuncturists carry insurance as a cautionary measure because even if you do everything right something could still go wrong. Despite your best effort you cannot protect your patients from their own bodies reaction to the acupuncture process and like we mentioned above some patients may not be fully aware of the physical side effects that can normally occur when you receive acupuncture.