Diluted Thinking

in Australian healthcare

Chiropractic Board of Australia Cracks Down

In 2013 the chiropractic industry came under fire from various quarters and for good reasons. The major concerns were government funding that chiropractors receive for non-evidence based practices and the quality and content of their continuing education. Michael Vagg, clinical senior lecturer at Deakin University School of Medicine, published a piece in The Conversation entitled Concerns about chiros are about quality and safety, not some phoney turf war. This article also contains links to articles published in the Sydney Morning Herald and I recommend that you read the lot. It is also worth noting that chiropractors made up the majority of professional members of the notorious Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) including at one time, the Chiropractors' Association of Australia, the national body representing chiropractors' interests.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is responsible for the regulation of health practitioners of the major health modalities in partnership with national boards. The Chiropractic Board of Australia is the national board responsible for chiropractors and its primary aim is to protect the public. Not surprisingly, this recent media attention resulted in the Chiropractic Board of Australia issuing a position statement on 22 March 2013 about the provision of health information by chiropractors. It reminded chiropractors that they "have a responsibility to promote the health of the community through disease prevention and control, education and, where relevant, screening.". It also stated that advice about vaccination is not typically within the usual area of practice for a chiropractor, and that where a practitioner is asked to provide information not directly relevant to their competency or scope of practice, the patient should be referred to a relevant health professional.
The position statement may be downloaded from http://www.chiropracticboard.gov.au/News/2013-03-22-media-release.aspx

More negative coverage of chiropractic was to follow with the ABC Catalyst program on 11 July 2013 featuring a story about chiropractors and the quackery endemic in their industry.


This program may also be viewed online at the ABC website (with full transcript) at Catalyst: Chiropractors

Once again, the Chiropractic Board of Australia was forced to take action and issued this media release dated 8 August 2013 Board cracks down to protect public, excerpt follows:

To protect public safety, the Board has:
  • ordered practitioners to remove all anti-vaccination material from their websites and clinics
  • removed several courses from the list of approved CPD programs, and
  • introduced random audits of practitioner compliance with the Board's registration standards.

For the Sydney Morning Herald's take on it, please read Chiropractors pushing anti-vaccination line face crackdown, audits and ABC news article Board cracks down on chiropractors pushing anti-vaccination message.

Adam Spencer, host of 702 ABC Radio Breakfast program interviewed Philip Donato, Chairman of the Chiropractic Board of Australia on 9 August 2013. You may listen to this interview or download the audio at Crackdown on Chiropractors.

In light of the large number of chiropractors breaching ethical and professional conduct and advertising rules on social media, the Chiropractic Board of Australia issued a communiqué dated 20 September 2013 advising practitioners that these rules also apply to social media. The communiqué (PDF) may be downloaded from Communiqué from the Board - 26 Sep 2013

Anti-vaccination Chiropractors

This page used to contain a list of chiropractors associated with anti-vaccination information. An amended list can be found at Chiropractors and Anti-Vaccination.

As a result of chiropractors running scared from a crackdown by their regulator, much of the evidence against them disappeared from their websites and social media accounts and consequently the original list was removed on 16 Feb 2015.

Unfortunately this doesn't mean that these chiropractors have changed their views on vaccination. As outlined in Reasonablehank's blog post Chiropractor Simon Floreani issued an official wrist-slap for anti-vaccinationism removal of anti-vaccination material from the internet is no guarantee that chiropractic patients are safe from anti-vaccination propaganda in the chiropractic waiting room and the chiropractors themselves. I find this situation totally unacceptable; clearly, many chiropractors are not fit to be considered 'healthcare professionals' and the public has a right to a better standard of care and to be able to trust in the standard of care offered them.

I'd like to make a special mention of chiropractors who claim they are not anti-vaccination but the chiropractic business they work for was providing anti-vaccination material. This particular group of chiropractors are, in my opinion, just as guilty in the provision of health misinformation. A chiropractor is not just an employee, they are the product. From the patient's persective a chiropractor is the business therefore health advice from the business is being disseminated in that chiropractor's name.
I think it is reasonable to expect that as healthcare professionals, chiropractors who are not anti-vaccination have a duty of care to ensure that they do not expose their patients to potentially dangerous health misinformation. To allow the chiropractic business to disseminate anti-vaccination material without making any attempt to stop it (reporting the business to AHPRA, for starters) is a gross dereliction of duty to their patients and I make no apology whatsoever to such chiropractors who appeared on the original list.

And returning to anti-vaccination propaganda in the chiropractic office, one particular item stands out and can be found in many, many chiropractic waiting rooms - Jennifer Barham-Floreani's book Well Adjusted Babies. This book contains an entire chapter on vaccine misinformation and, in my opinion, no healthcare professional can justify exposing their patients to it.