At around 6 p.m. on Aug. 5, a Texas woman found herself abandoned by her doctor mid-treatment, WFAA reports. Noting the music had been turned off, she tried the office door but found it locked. She called 9-1-1. "I had to pull the needles out of me in order to, you know, find out what's going on,” the unidentified woman told the operator.

Needles?

Apparently, the doctor who abandoned her was an acupuncturist, Jeff Tsing, who later said (off-camera, WFAA notes) that he was both ashamed and “baffled” by what he had done.

The incident occurred at the Hwa Tow Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Clinic in Arlington.

“I'm yelling for help for about five minutes or so," the woman told the 9-1-1 operator.

According to WFAA, Tsing has been licensed by the Texas Medical Board since 1994 and no disciplinary actions have been filed against him.

Another patient, Larry Lyles, told WFAA that the doctor is “very well-thought-of" and that he has “helped a number of people [he knows].” In fact, Lyles said that Tsing discussed the incident with him; even such a negative self-report like this could not change his high opinion of the doctor.

"You get people sticking needles in you, you better trust him," Lyles told WFAA.

According to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults and 150,000 children used acupuncture in the previous year. Between the years 2002 and 2007, acupuncture use among adults increased by approximately one million people. Among the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years.

Although technically the term covers a family of procedures, the most prevalent technique (as well as the one most studied by scientists) involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, and metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. In the U.S., acupuncture is grouped under 'complementary and alternative medicines' (CAM). Generally, practitioners use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and swab treatment sites with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles. Although acupuncture may cause potentially serious side effects, including infection or punctured organs, if not delivered properly, relatively few complications have been reported in the U.S — well, other than being forgotten and locked in an office by the practitioner.

 

Source: Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007. National Health Statistics Reports. 2008.