A traditional Chinese medicine physician is being sued for a botched moxibustion treatment that left the patient with third-degree burns and scars.

Ms Tan, 54, a finance and human resource director sought help at Raffles Chinese Medicine, a clinic under the Raffles Medical Group, in Apr last year after experiencing pain in her left shoulder.

The 54-year-old, who declined to reveal her full name, sued TCM physician Jin Jinhua and her employer Raffles Chinese Medicine (RCM) for alleged negligence and alleged breach of contractual agreement.

Ms Tan had agreed to $50,000 in a private settlement with Ms Jin, without an admission of liability by both parties. An RCM spokesman said the settlement was negotiated independently between Ms Jin and Ms Tan and the settlement included releasing RCM from liability.

Ms Tan said she was lying on her side when Ms Jin strapped a heated container to her arm and left the room. But when she tried to flip over, she heard this crackling sound and didn’t dare to move after that.

About 15 minutes later, Ms Jin returned and was alarmed to see that blisters had formed, according to court documents.

Using an acupuncture needle, Ms Jin burst the blisters and bandaged the wound. Ms Tan then paid $108 for the session and left the clinic.

“When I got home, the blisters became bigger and the pressure was just building up inside them,” Ms Tan said. The blisters didn’t go away and she was diagnosed her condition as a third-degree burn.

She had previously undergone about four sessions of acupuncture with Ms Jin, but that day she was asked to give moxibustion a try as this was said to be more effective, she said.

After the wound healed about a month later, she began laser treatment – costing about $380 each session – to smoothen the 4cm by 3cm scar.

Doctors told her that she may have to continue the laser treatment for another year, although the scar is likely to be permanent.

“I should have shouted for help. I still ask myself why I didn’t do so,” Ms Tan said. Since the incident, she feels uneasy whenever she hears a sizzling sound.

To date, her medical expenses have come to about $4,000. She said: “I just hope that more people will be aware of the risks involved in going for such TCM treatments and not let their guard down.”

Said the RCM spokesman: “We have protocols in place and they are constantly reinforced to our physicians.”

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