Woman’s lung collapses after acupuncture

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Auckland
A woman whose lung collapsed during acupuncture was told her symptoms were “normal” by the physiotherapist treating her, a report has found.
In a report released yesterday, deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall has recommended the physio apologise to the woman over the incident in 2015 and undertake further training about getting informed consent from patients.
The commission heard the woman had been getting treatment scoliosis in June, 2015 and was asked by the physio if she was “open to acupuncture” but not told about the risks including of lung collapse.
Shortly after, the woman began shaking, feeling light headed, was in extreme pain on the left side of her chest and was having difficulty breathing.
“As soon as the first needle was activated she felt a large pulse in her chest and slight pain in her left lung area,” the commissioner said.
When she called the clinic back, the physio told her it was “normal and it was the muscles tightening back up”, the patient told the commission.
The physiotherapist told the commissioner the woman had told her she was “unable to take a deep breath” and thought the symptoms were just side-effects of needling a tight muscle.
“On reflection, at that stage I should have told (the patient) to immediately go to (accident and emergency) and get her lungs and thorax checked via an x-ray,” she said.
By the time the physio had done some more research saying she was “shocked” a lung collapse was possible and texted the woman to see a doctor, the patient had already gone to a hospital, the commission heard.
Ms Wall said the physio should have immediately recognised the symptoms of pneumothorax (lung collapse) and also should have provided the woman with a proper account of the risks of acupuncture, given she had scoliosis. NZN

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