TCM practitioner fined $3,000 for causing burns to patient's leg during acupuncture

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

The patient visited Mr Koh Chin Aik's Kreta Ayer Road clinic in May 2017. Mr Koh had applied needles to the patient's left calf when he asked his assistant to ignite a dried herb on the needles' tips.

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. Ashes from the herb dropped onto the patient's calf, causing the burns.

The patient, who has since recovered, complained about the incident 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 the moxibustion procedure was not in accordance with 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 of the investigation conducted, the mishap could have been avoided had adequate care and safeguards been put in place," said the Board.

It urged all registered TCM practitioners to regularly review the adequacy of their practices to minimise the risk of burn incidents.

"The Board takes a serious view of any registered TCM practitioner taking the safety of patients lightly and would not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary measures against any errant TCM practitioner," it added.