CSP to exclude use of thoracic acupuncture from PLI scheme

The move reflects the growing cost to the CSP of frequent claims of pneumothorax from negligent use of the practice

an acupuncturist working on a patient

From 1 July 2024, members who use acupuncture or needling around the thoracic region will have to seek separate insurance cover for this work, where specific indemnity is not provided by their employer.

The CSP is taking this action to make sure the Professional Liability Indemnity (PLI) scheme remains sustainable and affordable for the CSP to provide as a member benefit. Scheme costs have increased by almost 30 per cent in the last two years.

CSP professional adviser Pip White said:

Claims from pneumothorax caused by thoracic acupuncture are regular and frequent. There is no defence to such claims, and so the CSP PLI scheme has to pay out a significant sum to each of those people who have been harmed. These repeated costs affect the overall group policy premium, which in turn increases CSP membership subscriptions.

The CSP has worked with the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) in recent years to highlight the risks of such interventions with the Learning from litigation - Pneumothorax briefing paper and a Frontline article - Pneumothorax and acupuncture: a point too far? Despite this, the PLI scheme continues to receive a steady stream of pneumothorax claims from negligent use of thoracic acupuncture.

While many CPD providers, including the AACP, offer training in acupuncture, the CSP has no role in endorsing post-registration training courses, nor does it regulate the practice of members. The only post-registration activity that is subject to regulation is prescribing, and the Health and Care Professions Council approves all programmes which are all quality assured by UK HEIs.

The CSP has taken similar steps in the past to exclude high-risk claim areas, most recently with spinal injections in 2021. Like spinal injections, thoracic acupuncture remains within the scope of physiotherapy practice, but will need additional indemnity cover due to its risk.

Members who rely on the CSP PLI scheme for any of their independent work and specifically use thoracic acupuncture or needling need to seek additional insurance cover from 1 July 2024 to remain insured for this activity.

Insurance brokers James Hallam can provide further advice.

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