Pharmacopuncture is a relatively new acupuncture therapy combining acupuncture with herbal medicine. While pharmacopuncture is applied extensively in Korean medicine treatment, there are no clinical reports regarding what types of pharmacopuncture are used for which diseases.
Data was extracted retrospectively from the electronic medical records of all inpatients and outpatients at 12 Korean medicine hospitals and clinics during the period of December 17, 2010 to October 2, 2014. Treatment patterns for acupuncture, electroacupuncture and pharmacopuncture were analyzed. Principle diagnosis codes, frequency of treatment, pharmacopuncture type and costs were investigated to assess pharmacopuncture use in clinical settings.
During the study period, a total 33,415 inpatients and 373,755 outpatients visited the study sites, and most were musculoskeletal. Among inpatients and outpatients, 98.6 % and 77.6 % received pharmacopuncture, respectively. Administration rate of pharmacopuncture for the 10 most frequent principle diagnosis codes was 97.2-99.3 % in inpatients, and that for outpatients was 73.0-91.5 %. The average number of pharmacopuncture sessions in pharmacopuncture recipients was 8.2 ± 12.3 for outpatients and 25.8 ± 18.7 for inpatients. The mean total cost for pharmacopuncture per patient was $556.24 ± 174.62 among inpatients, and $149.16 ± 243.85 among outpatients. Estimated average cost per pharmacopuncture session was $23-24 for inpatients, and $17-18 for outpatients. Shinbaro1, bee venom, Hwangryunhaedok, and Shinbaro2 were the most frequently used pharmacopuncture types.
This is the first analysis of treatment patterns of pharmacopuncture in a large-scale Korean medicine hospital/clinic patient population. We verified patterns of pharmacopuncture use for musculoskeletal disease treatment in Korea, and use of pharmacopuncture varied depending on disease or symptom severity. These results are expected to contribute to future clinical study design and standardization of pharmacopuncture.