Statement on pneumothorax claims

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) recently announced that thoracic acupuncture will be excluded from its Professional Liability Indemnity (PLI) scheme, requiring physiotherapists wishing to use this technique to obtain additional insurance. Claims from pneumothorax regarding BAcC members are extremely rare and no additional insurance premium will be required for our members.


The insertion of acupuncture needles in the thoracic region poses a risk of pneumothorax. The CSP states:

“Claims from pneumothorax caused by thoracic acupuncture are regular and frequent…. These repeated costs affect the overall group policy premium, which in turn increases CSP membership subscriptions.”

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has been in touch with our insurers regarding this issue. Our insurers have confirmed there are no anticipated changes to cover for BAcC members as they have not seen any such claims from pneumothorax.

Acupuncture has been shown to be an extremely safe intervention when delivered by properly trained practitioners [1, 2]. Pneumothorax occurred twice in a study that looked at 2.2 million acupuncture sessions: one required hospital treatment, one observation only [2]. Pneumothorax is likely to be caused by needles being inserted too deeply and at the wrong angle.

Accessing acupuncture safely

Through comprehensive training and continuing practitioner development, the risk of pneumothorax can be reduced. Therefore, when choosing an acupuncturist, it’s important to be sure the practitioner is properly trained and abides by professional codes.

The BAcC is an Accredited Register with the Professional Standards Authority for Health & Social Care (PSA). The PSA protects the public by overseeing the regulation and registration of healthcare professionals – including statutorily regulated professions, such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and Accredited Registers like the BAcC. This offers a quality mark for high standards of training, safe practice, and professional conduct. Statutory regulated healthcare professionals, such as members of the General Medical Council, can use Accredited Register status as an assurance of the safety and quality of care provided when making referrals.

1.         Bäumler, P., et al., Acupuncture-related adverse events: systematic review and meta-analyses of prospective clinical studies. BMJ Open, 2021. 11(9): p. e045961.

2.         Witt, C.M., et al., Safety of acupuncture: results of a prospective observational study with 229,230 patients and introduction of a medical information and consent form. Forschende Komplementärmedizin, 2009. 16(2): p. 91-97.