Southern California has wholly embraced the trend of using natural, alternative, or holistic medicine to treat many common ailments. Whether or not these treatments provide any real medical benefit is a matter of some debate—what is not debatable is that these treatments can be dangerous if performed improperly
Chiropractic adjustments have gained relatively mainstream acceptance as a sort of medical massage therapy. The treatment can bring much needed relief from pain in the back, shoulders, and neck, and millions of people every year get relief from chronic pain without incident.
Chiropractic treatments and manipulations are not without risks, however. Chiropractors are not medical doctors, and do not receive the same advanced training in physiology and anatomy as physicians. The treatments that are performed, most notably the vigorous manipulation of the vertebrae in the neck, can cause serious injury and even death.
It is well known that cervical manipulation, or adjusting the neck, can cause life-threatening strokes. When a chiropractor manipulates the neck, the vertebral artery in the neck can tear or dissect, causing the person seeking treatment to suffer a stroke. In addition to strokes, vigorous manipulation of the joints can lead to torn ligaments, herniated discs, cracked vertebrae, muscle or nerve damage, and paralysis.
Though a chiropractor is not a medical doctor, he or she must still follow the rules of ethics and the applicable treatment guidelines for the chiropractic profession. If a chiropractor treats a person negligently and causes injury, the chiropractor may be liable for a malpractice or a negligent injury lawsuit.
A chiropractor must also inform the person seeking treatment about the applicable risks—especially when a neck manipulation carries the possibility of strokes or death. In fact, California law requires chiropractors to inform the people who are being treated of every known risk of bodily harm which might occur because of the proposed treatment. The person should be informed both verbally and in writing; a chiropractor may only treat the person if he or she acknowledges and accepts the risks to treatment.
In addition to injuries caused by the treatment itself, chiropractors also have a responsibility to refer a patient with an actual medical condition for treatment by a doctor. While a chiropractor may not have the type of medical training needed to identify a particular type of bone disease, the chiropractor should still be able to tell when an issue needs immediate medical attention rather than a spinal manipulation. If a chiropractor assures a patient that an adjustment is all that is needed, when the problem is really a serious medical issue, that chiropractor could be liable if the person seeking treatment is harmed by that advice.
Whether or not a chiropractor can be held liable for an injury is often a complicated issue of both medicine and law. When your case depends on both of these areas, you should seek the advice of Attorney Bradley I. Kramer, M.D. As both a doctor and a lawyer, he and his team of dedicated legal and medical professionals use their expertise to help you get justice after an injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
For a free consultation at the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., call us today at (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed for free.