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Survey of adverse events following acupuncture
  1. Adrian White,
  2. Simon Hayhoe,
  3. Edzard Ernst
  1. Department of Anæsthetics, District General Hospital, Colchester
  2. Department of Complementary Medicine, University of Exeter
  1. Department of Complementary Medicine, Postgraduate Medical School, University of Exeter, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4 NT (UK)


Volunteers are sought who will commit themselves to report the incidence of adverse effects in their acupuncture practice over a period of two years. The Department of Complementary Medicine of Exeter University is co-ordinating a survey of 30,000 acupuncture treatments. From the resulting data a complication rate of serious and minor side effects will be compiled. It is hoped that meticulous recording could demonstrate circumstances leading to adverse effects and identify unrecorded complications of acupuncture.

Previous reports suggest that the major complications of acupuncture have an incidence of between 1:10,000 and 1:100,000, which is classified as very low. This survey aims to give an accurate assessment of the risk of major complication and to determine the range and incidence of any other unintended and non-therapeutic ill-effects following acupuncture, no matter how minor. It constitutes the first such investigation into the safety of acupuncture.

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