The Acupuncture Clean Needle Technique, Part Two ...you can find part one here.
The steps taken to ensure safety when needling a patient with acupuncture needles, include:
- Proper locating technique We spend two+ years learning where all the needling points are located on the body, plus we have course notes, awesome textbooks/guides, and even phone apps (apparently) to remind us of the point locations in case we forget.
- Knowing contraindications In addition to learning the locations, we have to learn the contraindications for each needling point (e.g. do not needle this point if the patient is pregnant)
- Awareness of underlying anatomy We are also taught the underlying anatomy to be cautious of when needling. This is why most people fear acupuncture, they fear that the needle will poke something important! Not true. We are taught where the major nerves are found in the body, so we steer clear of them when inserting needles. We know where the liver is, so needles inserted on the right upper quadrant of the abdomen are done so with care and to a shallow depth. Rest assured that for the most part, needle points lie over completely "empty" areas of the body (i.e. areas without major organs, nerves, structures, or vessels lying below).
- Swab with alcohol Before the needle is inserted, every point is swabbed with alcohol to sterile the area.
- Quick, painless insertion Insertions are fast, gentle, and if the needle doesn't enter the body with ease, it is not 'rammed' in or forced, preventing injury and patient discomfort.
- Sterile needles and clean/dirty fields As mentioned before, the needles are squeaky clean.
- Sharps container Also mentioned before, every used needle is placed in a sharps container, preventing anyone from getting unnecessarily poked!
Some of the points located on the head. Image source here.