Safety in acupuncture

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7105.429a (Published 16 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:429

Rigorous accreditation schedule for acupuncture already exists

  1. Earl Baldwin

    of Bewdley

    , Chairmana
  1. a British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, 206-208 Latimer Road, London W10 6RE
  2. b College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, 19 Castle Street, Reading RG1 7SB
  3. c Oxfordshire Health Authority, Oxford OX3 9LG
  4. d British Acupuncture Council, 206-208 Latimer Road, London W10 6RE

    Editor—E Ernst and A White raise important points about the safe practice of acupuncture.1 Most people would agree that sticking needles into patients, however fine they are, has the potential for harm. What I find surprising, having chaired the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board since its beginnings in 1989, is that the authors seem to be calling for a solution that has been in place for nearly eight years; bylaws governing aspects of safe practice in acupuncture clinics have been in place considerably longer.2 The “system of self regulation” that the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board embodies is not “likely to gain support from … official bodies”: it has already gained it, as Ernst and White will see if they reread the BMA's 1993 report on complementary medicine3 or talk to people in the Department of Health. We set a rigorous accreditation schedule, which makes stern demands on the acupuncture training colleges and includes the issues of safety and familiarity with orthodox medicine (comprising a third of the syllabus) that the authors are rightly concerned about.

    Ernst and White overlooked a development that is known to most of those working in complementary medicine. As with homoeopathy, historically one of the difficulties has been to get medical …

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