Source: Cycling Weekly
Date/Issue: 01 Sept 2016
Expert opinion: Mark Bovey is research manager at the Acupuncture Research Resource Centre/The British Acupuncture Council, and he’s written in response to an article by Edzard Ernst
In my view, Professor Edzard Ernst’s claim about 100 fatalities having resulted from acupuncture was unduly alarmist.
He failed to address key questions. Where does his figure come from, over what period and in which countries? How many acupuncture treatments in total were given during this time; how frequently do fatalities occur? Were the acupuncturists involved properly trained, and how many of the deaths could definitely be tied to acupuncture as the cause?
Without this background information or references, Ernst’s article risks falling into the category of misleading sensationalism.
Investigations of reported fatalities have shown that some cannot be substantiated as being caused by the acupuncture; one, included in a study by Ernst, was self-inflicted with a sewing needle!
Fatalities, of which there have been few, have diminished steadily since the Nineties, with better hygiene practices and practitioner training.
Many unsafe practices recorded worldwide over the last 50 years would never have happened if current UK professional safe practice guidelines had been followed.
Acupuncture treatment is not absolutely risk-free, but its degree of risk is comparatively low.