Dry needle therapy leads to medical emergency

| 19/03/2018 | 49 Comments
Deep dry needling

(L-R) Dr Shomari Blake, Debbie Pennington-Ebanks and Dr Omar Felix

(CNS): A Caymanian patient of the Health Services Authority offered her heartfelt thanks to the medical staff that treated her earlier this year when she experienced a life-threatening situation after a type of acupuncture, known as deep dry needling. Debbie Pennington-Ebanks has made a full recovery but she suffered a collapsed lung following a session with a private therapist. Emergency room physician Dr Sean Teeling was quick to diagnose the problem and put Pennington-Ebanks in the hands of HSA surgeons Drs Omar Felix and Shomari Blake, who treated her potentially fatal condition. The patient has confirmed that she has not made a complaint about the therapist.

Pneumothorax, the medical term for a collapsed lung, is a well-recognised but rare adverse side-effect related to acupuncture or deep dry needling that can be fatal, according to medical experts.

Pennington-Ebanks said she had returned to work after the needle therapy when she began struggling to breathe. She credits the quick thinking of doctors and the specialist work of the surgeons who performed a thoracostomy and minimally invasive techniques to reduce her pain, discomfort and improve cosmetic outcome.

“I’m not one to commend people. I’m usually very critical, but the service I experienced at the Cayman Islands Hospital was beyond outstanding. I want to recognise and commend the HSA and its doctors for the quality of care and treatment I received,” Pennington-Ebanks said. “The doctors checked on me every day and physiotherapy started working with me the following morning of the procedure.”

She added, “It was the most traumatic experience of my life, but the kindness, empathy, professionalism and dedication our public hospital demonstrated during my care reassured me that I was in good hands and contributed significantly to my recovery.”

Dr Felix said, “The procedure went well. She went home in a few days once we had confirmed that her lung was fully inflated and the pneumothorax was completely resolved.”

Pennington-Ebanks told CNS that she had not and did not intend to file a complaint about the therapy as she said she has made a full recovery thanks to the fantastic service received from the doctors at the HSA.

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Comments (49)

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  1. Jack Meoph says:

    Why is medical quackery allowed to flourish so openly in Cayman? Just because other societies allow it doesn’t mean Cayman has to. Why not make medical science the standard and say no to all forms of ripoff, crazy healthcare? For example, there are people selling homeopathic treatments in Cayman. Why? Why is such fraud okay when it comes to health treatments?

    • Anonymous says:

      Who said homeopathy is fraud? The pharmaceutical industry would love you believe that because there is no profit in curing ailments only in the treatment.

  2. Anonymous says:

    we live in a world of fake news where scientific research and facts mean nothing.
    dry needling and other quackery will only continue to flourish

  3. Ironside says:

    If only the soapbox naysayers would read the linked article, which includes a video of the procedure, done by a Trained, medical doctor. The video shows what happened to the subject (also a doctor) getting DDN.

    For the lazy and/or ‘armchair professionals’ in this arena;

    READ! – http://aim.bmj.com/content/early/2014/09/19/acupmed-2014-010659

    Snippet from the above article:

    “This report of a pneumothorax resulting from DDN is unusual for a number of reasons: both the practitioner and the subject were doctors and both have contributed to this report;

    the practitioner was very experienced in DDN and had not knowingly caused such an event in the previous 45 years of practice and teaching DDN;

    the incident was captured on video and is presented online with this report…”

    Supplementary video here:


    So, if you got this far, perhaps the ones stating this is bad procedure gone/done wrong, without any proof otherwise, hopefully now knowing this is a Rare occurrence when doing DDN acupuncture, you won’t be so quick to judge, I hope.

    I’m very happy you’re back to good health, Debbie.

    • Anonymous says:

      Watched the video. In the video the therapist uses a very long needle, inappropriate for that region of the body. He is inserting the needle perpendicularly, also inappropriate insertion for that region of the body. I am a licensed acupuncturist in the U.S.
      Every textbook of acupuncture points has information on locating that point, what gauge and length needle appropriate to use for the specific point, how deep to insert: caution as to physical build of your patient, etc, and cautioning underlying organs and nerves in the region of each point. Training is also about 4 years, passing a board exam is needed, to be licensed. Dry needling, so far in the states … weekend or maybe a week training, very little hands on practice, and no exam.

    • Anonymous says:

      This video shows the doctor practicing inappropriate insertion at this region of the body, a needle should never be inserted perpendicularly, also it is too long of a needle for this area, too deep of insertion for this area of the body.
      I am a licensed acupuncturist in U.S.
      Acupuncturists are trained, 3-4 years, training includes internship in a clinic for more than a year,must pass rigorous exams, a national board, certification or license depending on the state in which they practice, acupuncture is regulated. Dry needling is taught on weekends, there are no certifications, or regulations !
      Unfortunately Politics and money apply here as well, doctors can practice acupuncture with little or no training in the states, and now physical therapists can stick acupuncture needles anywhere, and call it dry needling, the patient really needs to be educated about all therapies they may want to receive.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The issue of dry needling is a big issue in the states. It is a term used by physical therapists who have adopted a form of acupuncture. Problem is, they get their training to needle in weekend seminars. No tests, no certification. This is acupuncture without the training. Sorry to hear it happened, and glad the expert care was done.

  5. Anonymous says:

    name the “dr”

  6. Ros.bodden says:

    But with acupuncture A PROPERLY TRAINED PERSON DOES NOT GO THAT DEEP WITH THAT HAIR THIN NEEDLE! I’ve had acupuncture dozens of times and it has done wonders for me and it is only a light tap of the needle, you don’t even feel it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Once in Hawaii, on the way to my hotel, I decided to finish my day with a chair neck massage. Seemed like a pleasant way to relax for the night. 2 minutes into massage and all I remember saying I don’t feel…(well). I came to on a floor, covered with vomit, extremely weak. It turned out I passed out, completely, not remembering anything. After 20 min. with my legs lifted as some passerbyers suggested, they walked me to my room; my family was dumbfounded. Massage therapist was in shock. It was first time ever in his practice when a person passed out during chair massage. It took me close to a month to completely recover.

    • Nikey21 says:

      Are you sure massage caused you to throw up? You should go check out a gastronomic doctor.

  8. Lung Enthusiast says:

    Totally did not need the images from this article. No no no.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “Pneumothorax is a well-recognised and rare side-effect related to acupuncture”; however the article does not specify that the condition is caused by having the procedure done by an unlicensed practitioner and/or as this case might be, a practitioner without the proper training.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The article is about doctor’s professionalism.
    If you focus on a collapsed lung, then you need to know that mortality is an extremely potent “virus”, each and every one would eventually catch it.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s about a collapsed lung first and foremost. The procedure on her needs to be examined to determine if there is any blame to be found.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dr Sean Tealing is a great Dr. Firstly we have to thank him for his very efficient diagnosis as usual. Dr Tealing should have been one of those that Cabinet gave Cayman Status to as so many Caymanians appreciate him. He is a very skilled Doctor and has been here for so long we should just offer him Caymanian Status.

  12. Sf says:

    I feel terrible that Ms Ebanks suffered from a collapsed lung and am so glad that she has recovered fully.
    I personally have dry needling in Cayman on a regular basis for my hips and I experience great relief from my pain and stiffness. Having had 2 sisters die, one at 38 and one at 49. Both who took numerous over the counter prescribed medications for their medical conditions none that worked and all contributed to their early deaths, I am grateful for this natural form of pain relief where I am putting no unnatural chemicals into my body. It is a fantastic treatment and I have experienced no adverse side affects from having it at all. Just wonderful relief from my aches.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Punctured her lung? When they said deep dry needle they weren’t messin around.

  14. Ron says:

    Where did she have the I njxnroroor8899fjojfjfnn9256555 igual treatment done?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the Health Service should pursue reimbursment from the quack.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians think acupuncture is witch doctor therapy from Hiati. So this is predictable.

    • Anonymous says:

      To be clear: dry needling seems to be untrained acupuncture. You can “learn” it in a weekend!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    “Dry Needling Therapy” has had a positive effect on my life. After years of debilitating pain and many practitioners/surgeons (that just wanted to cut me open) I have had 150% relief. This therapy plays a positive roll in health care. As in all healthcare therapies some are not for all and sorry this woman had to undergo the issues she did. Happy she is doing well. But CNS should think of the negatives this article will bring and was it worth publishing. Is it really news worth or negative propaganda?

  18. Anonymous says:

    “I’m not one to commend people. I’m usually very critical…”

    I’m happy she’s doing better, but, really??

  19. Al Catraz says:

    So are we to understand correctly that puncturing the lungs of others with no medical license whatsoever is not a criminal offense in Cayman?

    I expect the next person accused of an unlawful shooting to be a “dry bullet therapy” practitioner.

  20. Anonymous says:

    wow. she needs to take legal action.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Pneumothorax, the medical term for a collapsed lung, is a well-recognised but rare adverse side-effect related to acupuncture or deep dry needling that can be fatal, according to medical experts.”

      Based on the fact that it is a side effect of dry needling, i doubt there is any legal action she can take. According to this facts presented the therapist did not act negligent. It’s like someone taking medication with known side effects attempting to take legal action for experiencing said side effects.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are “black box” antibiotics doctor prescribe without any warnings. What does that mean? If you die or get neurological complications, sometime months after a treatment, no one is responsible, because you should have read “Black box” warning.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      We need to know who inserted the needle & what qualifications are required to administer dry needling.,,,

    • Anonymous says:

      Her particular procedure needs to be investigated to determine if there is actually fault to be found. Could save a life.

    • Anonymous says:

      Things happen. One eats peanuts without problems, but it can kill another. Prednisone is a life saver for most people, but can kill and or cause permanent “steroid psychosis”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because of course every time something goes wrong, there HAS to have been criminal negligence involved. SMH.

    • Anonymous says:

      What will money do her any good?

    • Anonymous says:

      I am delighted that this lady is alive and well. However, suing is pointless because the alternative therapies (acupuncture, needling, homeopathy etc) and the like is all bullshit. There is no scientific evidence to support that they do any good. Just a bunch of quacks fleecing you out of your hard earned cash.

      • Anonymous says:

        there is a website called IAMTHEEVIDENCE.ORG

        Ignorance is bliss, until it isn’t

        It is useless to get into a debate with @5.57pm and alike

    • Anonymous says:

      Had it been in the USA she would have already gotten a lawyer. A patient has rights and she needs to take legal action.

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