Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
How Can I Spot an Insurance Scam?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

A friend at work was recently rear-ended in a car accident. Her seven-year-old daughter was also in the car. They are seeing a chiropractor who was recommended by her lawyer. Both are receiving adjustment treatments every day and a massage once a week. The chiropractor has her on a reduced work schedule (four hours per day) for two months. She has a desk job. While at work, her injuries do not seem to bother her and she moves around pretty well. Is she involved in a scam? Is it good to see a chiropractor every day?

Answer

It is not rare for renegade attorneys and chiropractors (and other physicians) to team up in billing auto insurance companies for unnecessary services, While claimants are sometimes a party to such fraudulent claims, they are often victims of misinformation that has convinced them that they have a serious injury (such as a "subluxation")—even in the absence of symptoms. The case you have described certainly sounds suspicious. Daily spinal "adjustments" are rarely necessary or desirable and may, in fact, be harmful to a seven-year-old child.

If the mother of this child is not a knowing participant in a scam, she should certainly be willing—even eager—to see an orthopedic specialist for the sake of her child. And the chiropractor should be willing to have another doctor review the records of both the child and the mother.

I would advise both mother and child to discontinue treatment when they feel okay or to seek another opinion if symptoms persist longer than a month. If symptoms disappear after a few weeks, there is no reason to believe that there has been an injury that would require prolonged treatment of any kind.

For further information on on fraudulent personal injury mills, see Quackwatch.

____________________

Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This page was posted on August 27, 2002.