Fine for TCM practitioner whose patient was burnt

A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner has been fined $3,000 and censured after a patient suffered burns during acupuncture treatment.

Mr Koh Chin Aik had applied needles to the patient's left calf and asked his assistant to ignite a dried herb on the needle's tips at his Kreta Ayer Road clinic.

But during the treatment to improve blood flow - known as moxibustion - both Mr Koh and his assistant left the room to attend to another matter, and ashes from the herb dropped on the patient's calf, causing the burns in May 2017.

The patient, who has since recovered, complained to the TCM Practitioners Board .

After an investigation and hearing, the board concluded that Mr Koh had failed to exercise responsibility and appropriate care, take adequate precautions when administering the therapy and take adequate steps to prevent the burns.

It also found that his moxibustion procedure was not one of the appropriate and generally accepted methods of TCM treatment, while his management of the patient's care amounted to professional negligence.

The board noted that he showed remorse for his conduct and was a first-time offender. Mr Koh, who works at the Specialist Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre, must also pay the inquiry's costs.

"Based on the findings... the mishap could have been avoided had adequate care and safeguards been put in place," said the board, urging all registered practitioners to regularly review their practices to minimise the risk of burn incidents.

"The board... would not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary measures against any errant TCM practitioner," it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 10, 2019, with the headline 'Fine for TCM practitioner whose patient was burnt'. Print Edition | Subscribe