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Chiropractic News Digest #03-01

June 4, 2003

Chiropractic News Digest, edited by Christopher J. Erickson, M.D. and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch, summarizes scientific and political developments; enforcement actions; and other news relevant to the chiropractic marketplace.

Another study links neck manipulation to stroke. The first American nested case-control study has found that neck manipulation is an independent risk factor for stroke, increasing risk roughly 500%. [Smith WS and others. Spinal manipulative therapy is an independent risk factor for vertebral artery dissection. Neurology 60:1424-1428, 2003] Although the FDA banned phenylpropanolamine from cough remedies when a study demonstrating a roughly 25% increased risk of stroke, chiropractors angrily charged that the neck-manipulation study "needlessly alarms the public." A similar Canadian study which linked spinal manipulation to stroke through billing records, found a similar elevation of risk. [Rotherwell DM and others. Chiropractic manipulation and stroke. Stroke 32:1054-1060, 2001] Chiropractic leaders attempted to downplay the significance of these studies:

Chiropractic franchise efforts in Northern California. Robert Graykowski, D.C., has announced plans to develop up to 100 chiropractic clinics in Northern California for the national chain Chiropractic USA. The chain's parent, Banyan Corporation, is a holding company "focused on investing in and building a network of operating subsidiaries engaged in various innovative businesses. [Chiropractor to develop up to 100 new clinics. Sacramento Business Journal, May 5, 2003] C.J. Mertz, D.C., of Team WLP (known for promotion of his thousand-patient-visit-per-week approach) and cash-practice guru Dennis Nikitow, D.C., serve as part of the management team. [Banyan announces subsidiary Chiropractic USA, Inc. Enters franchise agreements and area development agreement with Dr. Robert Graykowski for Northern California. Mertz's was recently elected president of the International Chiropractic Association (ICA). For more information about Banyan, see (symbol: BANY).

Reports suggest ethical challenges for chiropractic profession. Stephen Foreman, D.C., told attendees at the April 2003 Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Board's Annual Congress that in California, chiropractors have twice the disciplinary action incidence rate as medical doctors and that the main problems were fraud actions and sexual violations. [Study suggests ethics a problem for the profession. Chiropractic Economics, May 2003] At the same meeting, the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners reported that its most pressing concerns were increased enforcement activities in the areas of prostitution and fraud, and increased appeals to Board-ordered disciplinary actions that were are driving up enforcement costs. The relatively high rate of sexual misconduct is striking in light of a 2002 Chiropractic Economics survey which found that 9% of chiropractors were married to another DC and 30% had a spouse who was a staff member. [Fifth annual salary & expense survey results. Chiropractic Economics, May 2002]

Excessive chiropractic solicitation? An astute reporter has discovered that the city of San Antonio spent more than $1 million on chiropractic care of uniformed employees and their families, with $688,833.going to a single clinic. [Stinson R. Local chiropractic clinic received $688,833 in city payments. San Antonio Express-News, May 29, 2003] Arkansas's chiropractic licensing board has described a similar problem as one of two "difficult challenges" it is facing: "Stopping the unprofessional practices of some licensee's that make direct contact with prospective patients before thirty (30) days after an auto accident, either by in-person or live telephone communication (telemarketing), when a significant communication or contact is for pecuniary gain." Gates CA. Report of the Arkansas Board of Chiropractic Examiners to the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Board's Annual Congress. April 2003]

Georgia's chiropractic complaints going unheard. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has reported that complains about chiropractic misconduct are being shelved because the George Board of Chiropractic Examiners, has only one out of six positions filled. [Cook T. License boards can't get quorums to work. Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 21, 2003]

Chiropractic associations exchange hostile commentary. The World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA) and American Chiropractic Association (ACA) have blasted each other in open letters to the profession. After the WCA said that the chiropractor serving in Congress (Ron Morgan, D.C.) unfairly "represents the more medically oriented portion of the profession," the ACA responded that "the WCA more closely resembles a small club than an association"; has has a "secret" non-published membership list; and has a "self-proclaimed -- and un-elected -- president for life." [Wills D, Edwards J. An open letter from ACA to the profession. ACA Web site, May 2003] The WCA responded that its goal has been to prevent the elimination of subluxation-based chiropractors, who were (and still are) suffering tremendous discrimination and harassment within our profession." [Rondberg T and others. An open letter to the profession from the World Chiropractic Alliance in response to the American Chiropractic Association. WCA Web site, May 2003] Both letters concluded: "It is time to root out those within the profession who attack others solely so they can further their own selfish agendas.."

Seeking inspiration in California. John Hanks, D.C., has described a demoralizing visit to a California chiropractic practice which, he concluded, offered a "hodgepodge of therapies thrown together for the sole purpose of enriching the owner." [Hanks J. Somebody just give me an adjustment! Dynamic Chiropractic, June 2, 2003]

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This page was revised on June 10, 2003.