College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia

Sally Su Yun WU (02881)

Date of action: January 15, 2014

Description of action taken

On December 10, 2012, the CTCMA initiated an investigation under s.33 of the Health Professions Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 183 (the “Act”) in response to a complaint received by a former patient alleging that the Registrant, representing herself as a natural health doctor, advised him to stop taking insulin and other prescribed western medication he was taking for his diabetes, in order for the herbal medicine that she prescribed to be effective. Shortly after the Complainant ceased taking insulin, he began to suffer nausea, dizziness, severe vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. He was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis for diabetic Ketoacidosis and treated in the intensive care unit.

Following consideration of the information gathered during the investigation, the Inquiry Committee resolved to seek a consent order under s.33 (6) and 36 of the Act with comprehensive terms that would ensure that the Registrant did not repeat the conduct.

Reasons for action taken

The Inquiry Committee resolved to seek a consent order based on concerns that:

  1. the Registrant’s direction to the Complainant to discontinue his insulin lead to his hospitalization and jeopardized his life;
  2. the Registrant did not have mandatory professional liability insurance in place at the material time and swore a false declaration to the College claiming that she did have professional liability insurance in place;
  3. the Registrant failed to maintain adequate clinical records;
  4. the Registrant prescribed herbal medication when not authorized to do so as a registered acupuncturist; and
  5. the Registrant held herself out as a Natural Health Practitioner which is not an authorized title under the Act or Regulation.

Action taken

The Inquiry Committee requested, and the Registrant agreed to provide, her undertaking and consent under s.33(6) of the Act on the following terms. The Registrant agreed to:

  1. appear before the Inquiry Committee to receive a formal reprimand in relation to her professional misconduct;
  2. consent to a suspension of her registration as a registered acupuncturist for a period of six months;
  3. undertake not to repeat the conduct of prescribing or recommending traditional Chinese medicine herbs to patients in her practice until such time as she is registered as a herbalist with the College;
  4. undertake not to repeat the conduct of failing to advise patients in her practice that she is not registered in a capacity to prescribe or recommend traditional Chinese medicine herbs although she is allowed to sell them outside her acupuncture practice;
  5. undertake to obtain written consent to treatment from all patients in the future and to maintain that written consent form in her clinical records;
  6. undertake not to repeat the conduct of failing to maintain accurate and complete clinical records in relation to her acupuncture practice;
  7. undertake not to counsel or advise patients to discontinue medications prescribed by the western medical doctors and specifically, not to counsel or advise diabetic patients to discontinue their insulin;
  8. undertake not to repeat the conduct of failing to have professional liability insurance in place as required under s.90 of the College bylaws;
  9. undertake not to sign a false declaration to the College;
  10. undertake to remove references to the title ‘Natural Health Practitioner’ ‘NHP’, ‘Natural Health Doctor’ and/or ‘NHD’ or any similar title from her website and marketing materials and to refrain from using those titles in her professional practice of acupuncture;
  11. undertake to successfully complete courses, at her cost, on professional ethics and clinical record keeping no later than nine months from the date of the Consent Order; and
  12. consent to random spot audits, at her cost, by an inspector appointed by the Inquiry Committee at any time during the two year period following expiration of her suspension and return to practice, to review her clinical records for the purposes of ensuring that she is adhering to proper standards of practice and completing proper clinical documentation. The undertaking and consent order further provides that in the event that any deficiencies are identified in the Registrant’s practice or record keeping during the random spot audits, the Inquiry Committee may, at its own discretion, extend her requirement to cooperate with random spot audits to five years following expiration of her suspension and return to practice and an undertaking to carry out such remedial work that the Inquiry Committee directs during the three year period following her return to practice, at her cost, in the event that any areas of deficiency are identified by the inspector during the audits. The Registrant also consented to pay the sum of $3,713.39 towards the College’s costs of investigation in accordance with the College tariff and to pay a fine of $3,500.00 for her professional misconduct.