Chiropractic Stroke Victims Optimistic that Board Will Issue Declaratory Ruling on Behalf of Patient Safety

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Chiropractic Denials of Risk Compared to Decades Old Tobacco Industry Denials

After testifying at the recent chiropractic stroke hearings in Connecticut, the Chiropractic Stroke Awareness Organization (CSAO), along with the Campaign for Science Based Healthcare (CSBH) and Victims of Irresponsible Chiropractic Education and Standards (V.O.I.C.E.S), believes the event was successful in bringing the debate on chiropractic stroke back to science and evidence based-medicine. During four-days of testimony, convincing evidence was presented about risk of stroke with chiropractic spinal manipulation (autopsy reports, death certificates and statements from leading forensic pathologists).

"The hearings exposed the chiropractic industry's distortions of the truth," said Susan Hoffman, President of V.O.I.C.E.S. "Patient safety should always come before a chiropractor's business interests and sadly, up to now, that hasn't been true."

Many chiropractors support warning patients about strokes and providing a discharge summary based on confidential e-mails and telephone calls to leaders of chiropractic support groups, as well as previous testimony from chiropractic leaders in Connecticut. In fact, William Lauretti, spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association, admitted during his testimony that there are possible neurological complications with spinal manipulation.

Chiropractor David Cassidy, a significant contributor to a Canadian study published in 2008, testified on behalf of the International Chiropractors Association that patients are no more likely to suffer a stroke following a visit to a chiropractor than they are after a visit to a family medical physician. But attorney Jann Bellamy of CSBH succinctly pointed out flaws in the so-called "Cassidy Study" by showing that, among other things, it was based on healthcare discharge codes (whose relationship to actual diagnosis has never been validated) without any patient chart review. The study did not look at whether any patient had a neck manipulation, even though chiropractors claim the study shows that neck manipulation is safe. Most importantly, Cassidy admitted that he had himself caused a patient to have a stroke after performing a manipulation and that his study did, "not rule out neck manipulation as a potential cause of stroke."

The Connecticut State Board of Medical Examiners testified in strong support of informed consent and even compared chiropractors' denial of the facts to the tobacco industry's claim years ago of no proven connection between smoking and cancer.

"This is sort of the argument that was used by the tobacco industry for decades as to why we should never, you know, discourage the use of tobacco," said Dr. Douglas Fellows, M.D. of the Connecticut Board of Medical Examiners. "I think that there is a certain type of compelling circumstantial evidence. I think there's an old quote by Thoreau that is, 'some circumstantial evidence can't be ignored, like a trout in the milk.'"

The Connecticut State Board of Chiropractic Examiners includes four chiropractors and two members of the public. "We are optimistic that the Board will take the lead and require that chiropractors inform their patients of the possibility of a stroke," Hoffman said. "Not only because it is the responsible and ethical thing to do as state healthcare regulators, but because it is in the interest of patient safety."

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