Is There a Clear Standard of Care in Chiropractic Treatment?

Chiropractic as a profession dates to 1895. From that time on, chiropractors themselves have identified their own standards of care. There are those in our democracy who say that the chiropractic profession lacks the checks and balances and objectivity that is built into our Constitution. The executive, judicial and legislative branches are supposed to keep each other in check in our federal and state governments.

Checks and Balances

Likewise, medical communities often have built-in checks and balances, depending on their governance organizations. The chiropractic profession has operated outside that system of checks and balances. Therefore, the ones who determine the standard of care in chiropractic care are the same ones who administer treatments to patients.

Safety Mechanisms and Fallacies

Who is to know if the chiropractic standard of care in fact functions as a self-fulfilling prophecy without the participation of objective outsiders? What safety mechanisms do or do not exist to prevent fallacies from taking root? Who determines when a violation of the standard of care has occurred — and how to correct these violations?

Intricacies of Interpretation

Take the case of Christa, who had developed backaches as a result of driving often for her work. She went to a chiropractor for treatment, and the very next day, experienced dizziness. She went back to the chiropractor to complain, and he twisted her neck again. Within ten minutes, she was in a full-blown stroke. On her first visit, she had no abnormal symptoms, yet in that first neck twist, her artery was damaged. The second time, she did have abnormal symptoms, but was given an upper cervical manipulation in spite of that fact.

Even though the first manipulation damaged the artery, the chiropractor had not violated a standard of care according to the profession’s own standards. Only the second treatment was said to have violated a standard of care. Therefore, if she had not gone back the second time, but had had the stroke that was apparently set in motion at that time, the chiropractor would not have been liable for violation of the chiropractic standard of care. We believe this is not an acceptable care practice.

Doesn’t this clearly show the need for the establishment of a safe consistent and reliable chiropractic standard of care?

Chiropractic Stroke Awareness Organization is a non-profit. We are dedicated to understanding, evaluating and researching the risks of stroke induced by chiropractic upper cervical manipulation.

We welcome the participation of chiropractors, doctors, lawyers and other interested professionals, including physical therapists and psychological counselors.