Chiropractic is a health care discipline for treatment of so-called "subluxations" of the spine; misalignments that some believe produce nerve interference and health problems throughout the body. Most chiropractors focus on treatment of spinal problems, but some undertake to treat neuromuscular, skeletal and joint disorders throughout the entire body. Improper action by a chiropractor can cause serious injury or even death. Some common types of chiropractic malpractice include:
Injury from actions outside the scope of chiropractic licensing
Under Michigan law, chiropractors have very limited scope of practice. For example, chiropractors cannot perform any invasive procedures that cuts or punctures the skin. They cannot treat joint dislocations or bone fractures, nor can they prescribe or administer any medications. If a chiropractor endangers a patient by exceeding this limited scope of practice and the patient is injured, this can be malpractice.
Failure to diagnose and refer conditions that require timely medical attention
Chiropractors are required to examine patients and determine if there is a potential cause of the patient's symptoms that are outside the chiropractor's limited scope of practice. If so, the chiropractor must inform the patient and refer the patient to a physician for proper medical treatment.
Injury from improper manipulation, technique or patient selection
This includes needless injury from manipulation of anatomy that has been compromised by previous trauma or pathology.
Not all patients are good candidates for chiropractic manipulation. Special care must be taken with children, the elderly and patients that have suffered traumatic injury or pathology that may make manipulation or alignment unsafe. Some patients have pre-existing neurologic or vascular conditions such as aneurysmal disease that make chiropractic manipulation dangerous and contraindicated.
Sexual assaults and boundary violations
Chiropractic is necessarily a hands-on modality of treatment. Sadly, some sexual predators have used their position of authority and trust as health care providers to inappropriately touch patients or initiate improper personal relationships. Harassment or sexual assault by a chiropractor can be emotionally and physically devastating, and offenders must be held accountable.
A poorly performed chiropractic maneuver can injure or kill a patient. Improper technique can cause paralysis or permanent neurologic damage. One of the most common complaints against chiropractors is improper manipulation causing or aggravating herniated or bulging disks. Improper cervical (neck) adjustment, sometimes called neck cracking, can cause injury to the carotid or vertebral arteries leading to the brain. This can cause bleeding or the formation of blood clots that cut off blood flow to the brain, resulting in stroke. One peer-reviewed medical journal concluded that, "The risks of chiropractic neck manipulations by far outweigh their benefits. Health care professionals should advise the public accordingly."
If you believe you or a loved one has been injured by a chiropractor's negligence, please contact our office to discuss your claim.