CHIROPRACTIC APOLOGETICS – Part IV

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Legal basis for straight chiropractic

The legal basis for straight chiropractic is probably one of the most controversial and yet one of the simplest areas to explain and understand. One of the beautiful things about the practice of straight chiropractic is that the best interests of the chiropractor and the best interests of the patient are never in conflict. This cannot be said for other branches of the “healing arts.” Often the medical doctor, for example, will recommend costly and invasive tests which are not necessary for the patients’ benefit and are only designed to protect the doctor legally. Within the practice of straight chiropractic there is nothing the chiropractor must do that is not completely in the best interest of the patient. This is important because in explaining the straight chiropractic rationale to legislators, who, after all, determine the legal basis for the practice of all chiropractors, straight chiropractic is put in a much more positive light than other types of practice. As a side note, this is the reasons that the “live and let live” philosophy can never work. If chiropractic could practice outside the framework of a legal system, then we could all practice as we like. But what one doctor of chiropractic does affects every other chiropractor in his area, and even statewide. No one practices in a vacuum. If laws are passed stating that a chiropractor must make a medical diagnosis then there is no longer the practice of straight chiropractic. Any mixer surely should see the fear among the straights that the day will come when these laws are passed. Conversely, there are many mixers who sincerely believe that if a straight does not form a diagnosis before beginning care, he is practicing a dangerous form of chiropractic. Clearly, we need two professions.
Getting back to straight chiropractic’s legal basis, it is not difficult to demonstrate to a legislator, or anyone else, that practicing straight chiropractic is legally the safest type of practice, and presents the least possible harm to the patient. All studies in the area of malpractice show that misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, and failure to refer out are the leading causes of malpractice claims. This is why straight chiropractic is so safe. You cannot misdiagnose if you do not diagnose. You cannot fail to diagnose if diagnosis is not part of your procedure. The difficulty lies in explaining to people that we are practicing a health care profession which does not necessitate diagnosing or treating diseases. Strangely enough, the easiest people to explain it to are members of the medical community. Perhaps they are anxious to believe that chiropractors are not in competition with them for the treatment of diseases. The most difficult, even impossible, group of people to explain it to is the mixers. Next in line is the public, because most of their contact with the health care community has been with the disease treatment model, and most of the chiropractors out there are practicing a drugless disease treatment model. Clearly, the weakest aspect of the practice of straight chiropractic is its ability to explain the straight chiropractic concept of health and “non-disease treatment” care. But it is a problem of practice and communication, not of straight chiropractic itself. If this concept is explained properly, and it should be for the sake of the patient and the protection of the chiropractor, straight chiropractic is the safest, most easily defensible way to practice chiropractic. v7n1

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