Intended for healthcare professionals


Acupuncture may be associated with serious adverse events

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 19 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:513
  1. E Ernst, director (,
  2. A R White
  1. Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX2 4NT

    EDITOR—In their review of acupuncture, Vickers and Zollman1 state that systemic infection seems to be uncommon. When it occurs, however, it can be devastating, and the single reported fatality from acupuncture last year was due to streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome.2 A 41 year old man who received acupuncture for shoulder pain collapsed three days later with rapidly spreading erythematous and necrotic change in the skin of the shoulder. Despite immediate extensive debridement and high doses of …

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