The safe and competent practice of acupuncture requires the practitioner to conform to a number of basic principles. These include minimising the risk of transmission of infection, maintaining sufficient knowledge of anatomy to guide safe needling, and seeking an orthodox medical diagnosis before embarking on treatment. Beyond these basic principles, there are certain circumstances in practice that generate regular debate amongst practitioners. This article details advice on a limited selection of such circumstances. This advice has been drawn from a set of policy statements originally drafted to facilitate clarity and consistency within the teaching of Western medical acupuncture provided by the BMAS. It is not comprehensive, but covers the areas where there were the greatest differences in approach among the teaching staff. The original policy statements were also incorporated into the BMAS Code of Practice.
By using the guidance in this article, in addition to applying sound clinical judgement and a knowledge of relevant anatomy, we hope that practitioners will minimise both the theoretical risks and the reported serious adverse events related to acupuncture, yet be able to practise unencumbered by illogical restrictions.
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