Photographic representations are worth on the order of 103 words, or so the old chestnut would have us believe.

I have been in charge on infection control at my hospital system for 23 years and in that time we have slowly driven down the rates of hospital acquired infections. There have been many initiatives that have helped with the decline, but I would wager that none have been as important getting out hand hygiene rates to almost 100%.

Hands are a wonderful vector for germs and it you want to have an entertaining, if somewhat nausea inducing time, spend a few hours focusing on what people to with their hands. Euw.

​Cartilage is one of those tissues that, when the right bacteria gains access, infections can destroy. I have seen two patients over the years lose an ear to a piercing gone bad: one from S. aureus and one from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Both had the piercing in the top of the ear, through cartilage.

It is, of course, hard to infect someone, but you can do everything right and the patient can still get an infection, especially from organisms such as S. aureus. It may take a combination of bad technique and bad luck to really optimize the chance of infection.

Combine bare hands and needles and you have a wonderful opportunity to spread contagion. Every time I see an article on acupuncture I look at the hands, the needles, and then shudder.

Case in point: Ear Acupuncture to Support Mental Health. Forget that ear acupuncture is not real acupuncture. Real acupuncture is traditional Chinese. Or Japanese. No wait, hand acupuncture. Or foot acupuncture. No, it’s tongue acupuncture that is the real deal. That’s the ticket. Or perhaps it’s the Micro Acupuncture Point System. So many acupunctures, so little reality.

BTW: That is why there is an obesity epidemic in the US. The only way to get all those mappings and meridians into people is to make humans bigger.

No. Look at the pictures. Like virtually every acupuncture photo or video. Worst. Technique. Ever. Gives me the heebie jeebies. We would never allow such sloppy technique of bare hands manipulating needles in any of my institutions.

The definition of a googlewhack is “finding a Google search query consisting of exactly two words without quotation marks, that returns exactly one hit.” I searched for 'gloves' and 'acupuncture' in google images. One hit. Is that an image Googlewhack? Maybe not, but the search result is a sad and scary fact of acupuncture.


Pediatr Emerg Care. 1999 Jun;15(3):189–92. Ear-piercing techniques as a cause of auricular chondritis.

[Adverse reactions to acupuncture]. Strzyz H, Ernst G. Schmerz. 1997 Feb 25;11(1):13–9. German. PMID: 12799834 [PubMed]

[Auricular perichondritis caused by acupuncture therapy]. Sørensen T. Ugeskr Laeger. 1990 Mar 12;152(11):752–3. Danish. No abstract available. PMID: 2321301 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

[Perichondritis of the ear caused by acupuncture]. Johansen M, Nielsen KO. Ugeskr Laeger. 1990 Jan 15;152(3):172–3. Danish. PMID: 2301056 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Auricular complication of acupuncture. Gilbert JG. N Z Med J. 1987 Mar 11;100(819):141–2. PMID: 3452023 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Perichondritis of the ear following acupuncture. Warwick-Brown NP, Richards AE. J Laryngol Otol. 1986 Oct;100(10):1177–9. No abstract available. PMID: 3772244 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Auricular perichondritis secondary to acupuncture. Davis O, Powell W. Arch Otolaryngol. 1985 Nov;111(11):770–1. PMID: 4051870 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

[Perichondritis of the ear auricle after acupuncture (author’s transl)]. Trautermann HG, Trautermann H. HNO. 1981 Sep;29(9):312–3. German. No abstract available. PMID: 7319850 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Perichondritis of the ear as a complication of acupuncture. Baltimore RS, Moloy PJ. Arch Otolaryngol. 1976 Sep;102(9):572–3. PMID: 962704 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Points of Interest: 1/21/2014
Points of Interest: 1/20/2014

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