Saturday, February 23, 2008


After reading the comments left by several proponents of chiropractic medicine and looking further into the curriculum and extent of the chiropractic scope, I have concluded several things for myself as a one practitioner of medicine.

I am, in the large medical realm, one practitioner. It would be purely arrogant and ignorant for me to believe that all answers to human suffering are found in the form of medical care I practice. Medical doctors have proven time and time again that we are not perfect and err as often as any other human. Unfortunately, we are in a profession where such errors may lead to bad outcomes or death. For a medical doctor to "look down" upon other medical practitioners would be egotistical and narrow-minded.

The field of medicine has a united goal to treat the patient and not do harm or be neglectful. Western medicine cannot fix everything, it may not fix many things. Patients deserve options to medical care. If one form of medical care does not work, they are fully entitled to seek other forms of treatment. With this said, if a patient has a surgical issue, they need surgery. If a patient who has cancer requiring resection (or other surgical ailment) opts to forgo surgery and seeks alternative treatments instead, that patient has a right to decide that for themselves despite what any medical professional believes. As long as patients are educated about the ailment, told of the options, and are of sound mind, they can decide their own fate...even if it will likely lead to death as long as that is known to them.

Osteopathy, physical therapy, alternative medicine and yes even chiropractic all have a place/role in treating patients. For one health care worker to speak unfavorably about one or the other is doing that profession a disservice. We need to be a united heath care team. From my own experience and ignorance, I can see how easy it is to fall into the trap of feeling threatened or distrust about another medical field.

After all this has been addressed, I will make a two closing comments. The general public has no clue what the realm of medicine entails. From fields of practice to tests to imaging to diagnoses to treatment options, the lay public is completely ignorant. Unfortunately, people think that if you call yourself "doctor" you went to medical school. The title of doctor has lost its uniqueness and magnitude amongst the public. Most people do not know the difference between PhD, PharmD, PA, DO, DC, DPT, DDT, MD, or even doctor of podiatry. Here's what I'm getting at, those that seek help in these different fields of practice should be informed about who they are seeing and their true scope of practice. Personally, I have no problem if my mother goes to see a chiropractor; however, if she believes that the chiropractor can treat/cure certain medical issues that require medications or even surgery because the chiropractor is a "doctor" that is entirely false and potentially damaging. People should know the scope of practice and capabilities of the medical professional they are seeing. Furthermore, we as medical professionals should be forthcoming with our limitations as practitioners.

Lastly, any medical professional using chest or abdominal xrays should not only be trained in their reading of the images but also have radiological oversight. Yes, dentists get xrays of the teeth, but they are very limited and usually just show the teeth. From what I know at this point, chiropractic medicine gets images of the thoracic and lumbar spine. These images likely also show both the chest (with thoracic) and the abdomen (with lumbar). My concern is this, is there professional radiological oversight regarding the chest and abdomen with these images? I have learned from recent discussions on this blog and elsewhere that there are chiropractors trained in radiology reading, but I have not been told if they also have been trained in reading body xrays.

My final comment...finally.
I make errors in my practice almost on a daily basis. Most are very small errors that are corrected immediately and will never cause any harm. Unfortunately, all medical doctors in my field (emergency medicine) could say the same thing. If they deny making errors, it simply means they don't know about their mistakes or they're kidding themselves. Also, every medical doctor went through residency, this virtually guarantees they've made errors. For one of us in any field of medicine to attempt to justify why our field is more superior is purely egocentric and false. Thinking about my prior comments regarding the debate between chiropractics and traditional medical practice, it is easy to see the somewhat separatist viewpoint many medical professionals take. The goal of medicine is to treat the patient, and treatment can come in many forms.


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