Medical Bashing

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Why is it that so many in our profession seem to feel it is our job to attack the medical profession. Sometimes it so much borders on childish behavior that it is embarrassing. In response to the medical community questioning the validity of the chiropractic approach, we answer with, “Oh yea! Well you kill thousands of people every year!” as if the shortcomings of medical practice somehow validate the chiropractic philosophy. The fact is neither the medical approach nor its outcomes are in any way related to what we do. I have spoken out against this practice in the past and my thinking has not changed. I truly believe that we are meant not just to survive as a profession but to take our rightful place, not ahead of medicine, but as a unique service that everyone needs. Regardless of whether people need medical care or not, we must stop the medical bashing. Unless we stop talking about medicine, attacking medicine, or comparing what we do to medicine, we will never be viewed as anything but an alternative to medicine.

I am not sure who threw the first stone in this fight. I know that some of D.D.’s and B.J.’s early advertisements were less than complimentary to the practice of medicine. Of course, we are all aware of the chiropractors who were jailed for correcting vertebral subluxations. We will never know if this was done because medicine was intolerant of anyone in the health care arena or because we gave the impression that we were achieving the same objective as the practice of medicine. It was most likely the result of a little of both.

In an effort to try to understand why medical bashing goes on, especially as an almost knee-jerk response to attacks by medicine, some interesting ideas arise. The charge by medicine is that chiropractic is unscientific and the response by chiropractic is that medicine kills and maims millions. Both charges are true. By medical standards, chiropractic fails to prove itself effective in alleviating diseases or their cause. But chiropractic does not wish to be judged by medical standards, whether they are considered to be scientific or not. It is especially true when those standards seem to allow medical procedures to be approved which later are demonstrated to be dangerous, worthless or both. Even a research project proving the efficacy of chiropractic as a treatment for bad backs is reported to have been repudiated by further studies. Does this mean that chiropractic is not helpful in alleviating musculoskeletal problems? No, what it does demonstrate is that the scientific method used by medicine and accepted by much of the scientific community is flawed. The issue is not that medical procedures kill and injure millions of people every year. The issue is that these procedures have been proven to be safe and effective by the same testing methods that chiropractors are criticized for not utilizing. Those in the medical community who criticize chiropractic for its lack of empirical proof, never seem to explain or apologize for the death and side effects of numerous drugs and procedures. The reason is that in their mind as long as a procedure has met the “scientific criteria” it is acceptable. That is the bottom line. If people die or are maimed, that is acceptable. Conversely, it does not matter whether chiropractic has over 100 years of anecdotal proof, millions of satisfied people, a philosophy that is sound, and/or that has so few “side-effects” that they are not worth noting. If chiropractic does not meet the scientific criteria, it should not be used.

What we do is not the same as medicine. Our procedure has no inherent harm to it. So there is no reason to research it for proof of safety. Medical procedures do have potential for danger and harm and apparently the research procedures that they want us to subject people to are flawed in their ability to determine that danger. The purpose of medical testing is not primarily to prove efficacy. It is primarily to prove safety. Because you are dealing with the human organism and every person is different, it can never be proven that everyone will be helped by a medical procedure. All they can try to prove is that the dangers are minimal.

So the standoff continues. We choose not to subject ourselves to the medical scientific evaluation because we see the flaws in it and medicine will not accept us until and unless we do. The answer for us as a profession is to entirely move away from the medical model. Otherwise we will have to accept their requirements of proof. v16n4

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