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Chinese herbal medicine can cause health problems

Overseas alternative medicines are gaining in popularity across the country as people desperate for cures look at other measures and immigration numbers swell.

However, a warning has been issued after the recent case of a Melbourne woman who almost died after taking a herbal preparation. The woman was prescribed the mixture by a Chinese herbal medication practitioner for back pain.

Now a team of intensive care and emergency physicians is calling for appropriate patient education for practitioners who provide alternative medications.

The case

Recently released in the Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the woman was given a preparation containing aconite.

She was given instructions to boil the plant and animal mixture for 45 minutes, but only did it for 30. The woman began experiencing facial tingling and numbness within minutes of consumption and was taken immediately to the emergency department.

The woman had developed severe cardiovascular toxicity and was sent straight to the intensive care unit.

Emergency physician Dr Shaun Greene from Austin Health said this was an unusual case and believes there should be more restrictions and education for alternative practitioners.

"Aconite poisoning is not a toxicological condition that many Australian doctors would be aware of and has not been described in Australian peer reviewed medical literature for over 20 years," he said.

"The case serves as a reminder that clinicians can access expert poisoning advice from a clinical toxicologist via the Poisons Information Centre system accessible via telephone (13 11 26) throughout Australia."

According to the journal, "there is no commercially available biological assay for the aconite poisoning."

Dr Greene concluded by stating public health must come first and patients must be given safe medicines.

"Regulatory agencies should enact measures to ensure patients are provided with accurate advice regarding safe use of Chinese herbal medicines," he said.

Medical negligence compensation

If you are a patient who has become sick or ill as a result of taking alternative medication prescribed to you, then you could be eligible for medical negligence compensation. You are urged to contact a lawyer that can help prepare your claim.

As medical negligence compensation is a complex situation, it is best to take your claim directly to a lawyer. It is also important to record anything that could help your claim. If your negligence lawyer can have access to all relevant information, then you are more likely to be successful in your case.

© 2014 
Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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