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Abbott pioneers acupuncture in the ER

Posted by Jim Heuer, Jr. | Mar 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Abbott Northwestern Hospital is reporting success using acupuncture in its emergency room to treat conditions ranging from car accident injuries to migraines to kidney stones, and hoping to prove that the traditional Chinese treatment can reduce doctors' reliance on addictive opioids to manage patients' pain.

The Minneapolis hospital was the first in the nation to staff its ER with an acupuncturist two years ago, as part of a broader campaign to promote Eastern remedies as complements to Western mainstream medicine.

After tracking 182 patients, it reported this month that pain scores in those who received acupuncture alone dropped by the same amount as those who also received analgesic painkillers.

“No matter what I'm treating them for, many patients report feeling calmer, more relaxed, less anxious,” said Adam Reinstein, the acupuncturist in Abbott's ER.

Coordinating with doctors and nurses on weekdays, Reinstein finds patients willing to receive acupuncture. He then places needles strategically in their skin to provide overall pain relief and relaxation, or to target pain in specific body parts.

The free service is designed to supplement whatever other care patients receive, but Reinstein said there have been cases when it pre-empted the need for prescription painkillers and shortened patients' ER stays. Now the goal is to measure just how much acupuncture in and of itself makes a difference.

Acupuncture Specialist Adam Reinstein met with cancer patient Julie Valley before giving her an acupuncture treatment at the Abbott Northwestern emergency room, Monday, March 7, 2016 in Minneapolis, MN. The hospital is reporting success posting an acupuncturist in its ER to provide pain relief to patients.

Acupuncture Specialist Adam Reinstein met with cancer patient Julie Valley before giving her an acupuncture treatment at the Abbott Northwestern emergency room, Monday, March 7, 2016 in Minneapolis, MN. The hospital is reporting success posting an acupuncturist in its ER to provide pain relief to patients.
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The study published by Reinstein and Jeffery Dusek of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing this month in the journal Pain Medicine found equivalent pain relief in patients who received acupuncture alone, but also reductions in their anxiety. The “observational” study had limits, though, including the chance that the acupuncture recipients might have been more likely to recover faster in the first place, and that there was no comparison group who only received painkillers.

Now Dusek is pursuing a federal grant for a more definitive study of 750 patients.

Proving acupuncture could sometimes replace opioids would be meaningful because there is growing evidence that the drugs are being overused and causing addictions and overdose deaths, said Dr. Chris Kapsner, the medical director of Abbott's ER.

Minnesota overdose deaths have risen sixfold, according to state death records, a trend that has corresponded with rising prescription rates.

“We're cognizant that there is a huge epidemic” of opioid overuse, Kapsner said, “and we're doing our best not to be part of the problem, but to be part of the solution.”

Five slender needles

Reinstein had already provided acupuncture for a car accident victim last week when he knocked on the door of Julia Valley's ER room. The breast cancer patient from Bloomington reported crushing pain and swelling in her left shoulder — a side effect of chemotherapy treatments that caused veins to collapse and become clogged.

Awaiting painkillers, Valley gladly agreed to acupuncture; the hospital's research shows that nine of 10 such ER patients agree to the treatment.

Reinstein selected the hand opposite from Valley's injured shoulder, cleansed it, and nimbly placed five needles between her wrist and thumb.

“Is that it?” asked Valley, who was anticipating stings. “Wow!”

“That's it,” Reinstein replied. “We try not to do anything that causes more pain.”

American views on acupuncture have changed over the past 30 years, from deeming it quackery to embracing its place in health care — even if its mechanisms are loosely understood. Studies nationally have proved it effective at reducing nausea from chemotherapy and addressing certain types of chronic pain.

Acupuncture is usually provided in meditative outpatient clinics rather than emergency departments full of bright lights, beeping alarms and anxious patients. Reinstein said the goal of ER treatment is different as well: immediate relief rather than long-term recovery or healing.   http://www.startribune.com/abbott-pioneers-acupuncture-in-the-er/371991031/

About the Author

Jim Heuer, Jr.

Experienced wrongful death attorney in Minneapolis. Personal injury matters when it affects your life. That is the driving philosophy of James A. Heuer, Jr., Principal Attorney at Heuer Fischer,P.A. . Heuer Fischer,P.A and his colleagues at this Minneapolis based law firm have a clear understanding of how injuries affect the lives of individuals, as well as how the laws, the courts and insurance companies work.

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