An acupuncturist has been ordered to apologise to a patient after leaving a 40mm needle in the man's abdomen.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Meenal Duggal released a report today, which found a Chinese medicine clinic had breached the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights and compromised the man's care.

A complaint after a man received treatment for a shoulder injury. The acupuncturist inserted a 40mm long needle in the man's abdomen, but did not tell the man it would be left there for a few days to extend the effects of the treatment.

The man discovered the needle a day after it was inserted and removed it.


Duggal found the acupuncturist did not supply enough information to the man, omitting information about side effects, how to remove the needle and dispose of it.

On the day the indecent happened, the acupuncturist said she had experienced an unusually high number of telephone calls - distracting her throughout the man's treatment.

However, the clinic director said he did not believe that would have impacted the acupuncturist's ability, despite admitting the acupuncturist was distracted.

Expert advisor Tracey Bourner said the patient's safety should have been prioritised.

"When running a busy clinic, patient safety must be the primary concern of the practitioner.

"A plan should be put in place to avoid such distractions in the future."

The acupuncturist will need to make an apology to the man for the incident for breaching the Code.

The report found consumers should expect to be provided the information, without it, the man could not make an informed choice, potentially compromising the treatment.

Without being informed correctly, there was the potential for the needle to be pushed deeper and penetrate organs. Infections were also found to be a potential harm.

The clinic had the written permission of the man, but a more in-depth consent form with essential details documented in the clinical records was necessary moving forward.

The clinic has subsequently adopted a new informed consent form and new treatment record template to record treatment notes. The clinic was advised all other practitioners at the clinic should be informed of the new procedures

The report also found the acupuncturist was not educated enough in correct practice.

It recommended the practitioner undertake more education and training surrounding informed consent, which she will have to provide evidence of.