Sunday, December 31, 2006

Acupuncture on Children

Just from my brief time during clinicals at Kosair Children's Hospital, I had the chance to see children undergo nurmerous types of therapies. By and large, they adapt well even if it does involve needles. I know men in their 50's who refuse to take their own blood sugerbecause they are afraid of the "stick" while a 7-year old will say "look what I can do" and lancet their fingers without a problem. It is not a far reach to believe that kids could embrace acupuncture . . . especially if it means less "yucky medicine."

Dec 26, 2006 3:32 pm US/Eastern
Using Acupuncture To Help Children Heal
Dr. Mallika Marshall Reporting

Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of healing. Now local doctors are using it to help treat children.

Sandra Kean suffers from migraines as well as severe abdominal pain as a result of a condition called ulcerative colitis. In addition to having surgery, she comes to Children's Hospital Boston for regular acupuncture treatments to help relieve her pain. "I would be doubled over, uncomfortable and crying, and then after I went to acupuncture, I was more relaxed and calm and the side effects were basically gone."

"After a week or two, we weren't getting any more complaining about her abdominal pain or her back pain," said Sandra's mother Roseanne.

Children's started offering patients acupuncture as a complementary therapy in 2000.

"Lots of kids will be saying to us, 'I don't want needles,' however; after careful explanation and demonstration, kids to very well with acupuncture," said Dr. Yuan-Chi Lin of Children's Hospital Boston.

Doctors have used acupuncture to help hundreds of patients, ranging from teenagers like Sandra to the tiniest of babies."I have done acupuncture for premature infants to decrease their anxiety when they are in the intensive care unit," said Dr. Lin.

Dr. Lin has conducted studies which have shown that children who suffered from headaches, stomach aches and other chronic pain, felt less pain, missed less school and were able to sleep better after receiving acupuncture treatments for a year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Having seen more than a few examples of insurance fraud in the hospital (some doctors bribe patients with free samples of medications and then don't see them, but bill for an office visit!), it is gratifying to see people get busted. I am all for lower health care costs, and this kind of behavior is one of the major elements that keep driving it up. It is disappointing to think that an acupuncturist would be engaged in this kind fraud, but if they are guilty, then I hope the government will be able to recap its losses.

2 acupuncturists charged with fraud
3:52 PM December 20, 2006
Star report

Two Carmel residents have been charged with health care fraud, U.S. Attorney Susan W. Brooks announced today.

Wei Chen Yang, 44, and Horng Shao, 40, were charged following an investigation by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Court filings allege that Yang and Shao ran the Yang Health Center in Carmel, and provided primarily acupuncture services to control pain and for other purposes. Few health care insurers cover acupuncture treatments.

Brooks said the pair fraudulently billed Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly, and private insurers, such as Anthem and United Health Care, approximately $187,000 for the acupuncture services as chiropractic services that were covered by the insurers when they knew that acupuncture services were not covered or paid for by the insurers.

Yang and Shao, who could not be reached for comment, face a maximum possible prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum possible fine of $250,000. An initial hearing will be scheduled before a U.S. magistrate in Indianapolis.

Copyright 2006 All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Care can be pricey

The other day, one of my patients commented to me, "acupuncture is covered in Canada, it stinks that we don't get that." Cost often keeps people away - I have received several "Thanks, bye" from potential patients inquiring about fees. While some insurance, health savings, and flex-spending plans help defray the cost, acupuncturists are largely cash and carry.

Monday, 12/18/06

Integrated care more mainstream, but many patients still foot the bill
By JOY BUCHANAN Staff Writer

Just because people like integrated medical care, that doesn't mean insurance will cover it. Most people using complementary therapies pay out of their own pockets, and prices vary widely.

"My patients are consistently frustrated that the things they do with me are not covered by insurance," said Dr. Stephen Reisman, owner of Mind-Body Medical Center in Nashville. He does not accept insurance because reimbursements are unreliable and paperwork is costly, he says. "We cannot possibly do that and stay in business. The unfortunate thing about my practice is that it's not always accessible to people with lower incomes. They can't afford to pay out of pocket." A new patient visit with Reisman lasts an hour and costs $225. Follow-up visits are $145.

Dr. Dainia Baugh of the Nima Holistic Wellness Center said insurance is integrative medicine's biggest challenge. "Insurance companies may cover a visit if the doctor's plan for the patient is traditional, but if it doesn't follow strict insurance guidelines, then they may not pay for the visit," she said. "It's one of those things they are not willing to do."

Mohit Ghose, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, said that is not entirely true. "There is widespread coverage for different therapies," he said. "We can cover anything you want us to cover provided there is medical evidence to back it up."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Complementary medicines are useless . . .

and dangerous, says Britain's foremost expert
By BARBARA ROWLANDS Last updated at 08:53am on 12th December 2006

at least acupuncture isn't dismissed . . . totally.

A lot of complementary medicine is ineffective, and some positively dangerous. Meanwhile, alternative treatments that promise to cure cancer 'are downright irresponsible, if not criminal'.

These are the views not of an old-school doctor dismissive of alternative therapies, but of Professor Edzard Ernst, Britain's first professor of complementary medicine and, you would have assumed, its greatest champion.

Acupuncture gets the thumbs up. It's good for pain, particularly back pain, though it has nothing to do with mysterious energy flows, as many therapists claim. 'Acupuncture works in a physical way: it's nothing to do with yin and yang,' he says.

Herbal medicines - though not all of them - also pass muster because their success in treating a number of specific conditions has been demonstrated.

But most therapies don't come up to scientific scratch. In a series of articles for the trade publication Independent Nurse, reprinted on the publishers' website, he gives most the thumbs down.

Practitioners accuse Professor Ernst of trying to shoehorn therapies which are individually tailored to the patient into the straitjacket of a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial - the gold standard for conventional medicine.

In such a trial, a drug and a placebo pill are distributed at random to selected patients. Neither patient nor scientist knows who gets what. The code is broken only at the end and the results analysed.

Practitioners question how a treatment such as homeopathy or acupuncture, which treats the 'whole' person not just the symptom, can be subjected to such a study.

Ernst concedes that the 'bog-standard' randomised clinical trial is sometimes not completely suited to a number of treatments, but says he and his team work hard to find new ways of testing different therapies.

There are ways of doing clinical trials,' he says, 'where you can have the full spectrum of individu-alisation, holism and so on. You need to think a bit more - it's a challenge.'

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My Patient Speech

One of the frustrating things about "selling" acupuncture to clients is that it does not work as quickly as taking a Lortab - you have to be patient and diligent in the treatment to see long lasting results. The good (and bad) news in complementary medicine is that people typically come to us as a last resort and willing to do almost anything for relief. Back pain is always in the top 3 of reasons why people come to see me. The inevitable question "how long until I see results" typically arises during the initial phone conversation, and it would seem that my "speech" mimics that of the one below.

Thursday, December 7, 2006
Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture treats low back pain

Low back pain is one of the most common health complaints in the country today, and acupuncture can be a very effective method of treatment. Typically, several acupuncture treatments are required to get rid of the problem, depending upon the length of time the problem has persisted, its severity, patient age and any complicating factors.

In Chinese medicine, pain is the result of a blockage to the flow of energy or blood. Once the normal flow of energy and blood is re-established with acupuncture, pain disappears. A trained acupuncturist has a variety of methods and tools to use to achieve this goal.

In the case of low back pain typically the acupuncturist first identifies the specific blocked acupuncture channels. Acupuncture is commonly applied to the site of the pain and at sites away from the pain that lie along the same channel. The needles usually are retained in the body for 20-30 minutes, after which they are removed and disposed of.

Frequently, relief is experienced right away, though any degree of results can be felt at that time. After a course of several visits, usually four to six if the case is uncomplicated, the problem is frequently resolved or diminished to the extent that acupuncture is no longer needed. When the problem is chronic and has persisted for months or years, it may take longer to resolve.

Before treatment, make sure the acupuncturist is licensed and experienced with your condition.
--Andrew McIntyre, Bastyr Center for Natural Health