Canadian Pediatric Society Attacks Chiropractic - Meanwhile 60,000 Canadians Die Every Year from Medical Errors

News Analysis
Canadian Pediatric Society Attacks Chiropractic - Meanwhile 60,000 Canadians Die Every Year from Medical Errors

"Fake News" Media Storm Ensues

In February 2018 the Canadian Pediatric Society reaffirmed their Position Statement on Chiropractic Care for Children. The Position Statement was written by long time critic of chiropractic Linda S. Spigelblatt MD, FRCP(C) who is Associate Professor of Pediatrics Department of Pediatrics, University of Montreal, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was apparently adopted by the Canadian Paediatric Society and its Community Paediatrics Committee and was orginally published in 2002. While they contend it was "Reaffirmed" in February 2018 the reference list has only a couple of items from the early 2000's. The rest of their cherry picked literature review is from the early and mid 90's.

CLICK HERE to review the document

Of course, literally thousands of papers have been published documenting the beneficial health outcomes that children experience from chiropractic care since that time. We guess because they are medical doctors they don't have to be up on the latest research and can just "reaffirm" outdated and slanted research that supports the negative claims about chiropractic that they want to make.

Regardless of how easily refuted their Position Statement is and how easy it would be for a high school journalism student working on the school newspaper to see that they never updated their references and cherry picked those that supported their nonsense - the crack investigative journalists at the National Post that decided to churn out these salacious stories couldn't figure that out.

There is "Fake News" in Canada too we suppose.

In a paper titled "Alternative Medicine: Should It Be Used by Children?" Spigelblatt gave us some insight into her biased and ignorant views about chiropractic and alternative health care in general.

In the paper she reports ominously that:

". . . alternative medicine is becoming a significant aspect of child health care. Therefore it is important for pediatricians to be familiar with this phenomenon and to understand the reasons why parents consult alternative therapists. They will then be able to counsel parents on the efficacy and potential hazards of these treatments."

And just what does Spigelblatt feel about the efficacy and hazards of chiropractic?

According to this supposed expert on pediatrics:

"No scientific studies offer convincing data for the effectiveness of treatment of childhood disorders with chiropractic, yet pediatric associations have remained strangely silent on its appropriateness."

She goes on . . .

"The real problem with chiropractic, then, is not so much that it is dangerous (although unreported deaths have occurred in children with underlying neurologic disorders), but that it is ineffective."

So, according to her it is not safe and its not effective.

Case closed.

And it is just this bunch of nonsense without any facts to back them up that Sharon Kirkey of the National Post in Canada uses as a launching pad to attack the chiropractic care of children.

Her title alone would scare any mother away from chiropractic:

"Pediatricians alarmed by chiropractic treatments for babies that 'border on the fraudulent' and Some doctors worry that chiropractors are using 'scare tactics' to claim that up to 80% of newborns need a spinal adjustment to treat the 'trauma' of entering the world."

The implication in the title and subtitle are that chiropractors made up these numbers.

Of course we didn't.

Its actually the medical literature that substantiates these numbers and the severity of the trauma experienced by many children at the time of their birth and the health outcomes that result.

Kirkey appears to be shocked when she writes that:

"Newborns experience 'nerve interference' or a misaligned cervical spine from the birthing process, even when delivered via caesarean section, and should get treatment as soon as possible, some chiropractors say."

One has to wonder if Kirkey has ever witnessed a C-Section or observed the birth process. Do they have You Tube in Canada?

Again - all of this is in the medical literature.

The MEDICAL scientific literature.

We don't even have to bring in the chiropractic research since there is already so much substantiated in the very literature whose altar Spigelblatt worships at the foot of.

Or does she?

Perhaps she actually has an agenda and is using the uninformed media, whose "investigative" skills amount to using Google, as her tool to pepper the popular press with scary stories about chiropractors to hide the real threat to public health and children in Canada: Her and her medical counterparts.

Afterall, in Canada, medical errors and hospital-acquired infections claim between 30,000 and 60,000 lives annually. According to Dr. Peter Pisters, president and CEO of University Health Network, which consists of numerous hospitals throughout Toronto:

“It’s really, in approximate terms, equivalent to two 747s crashing every week. If we were operating a public airline like that, we’d be shutting it down and regulating safety.”

Got that. Organized medicine is killing up to 60,000 of Canada's citizens every year - but ignore that and "Look over here at what these crazy chiropractors are doing. They are using their hands to help kids. Someone put a stop to it!"

Instead Kirkey throws out this nonsense:

"More worrying to the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) is the risk of a chiropractor attempting to treat a serious problem requiring medical treatment by a real medical doctor."

Umm - you guys are killing 60,000 people a year (that we know about) but the chiropractor is the risk?

The article makes mention of unsupported claims made by chiropractors that they can heal all sorts of problems and quotes Dr. Douglas Mack, an assistant clinical professor at McMaster University:

“It’s often an ‘us’ against ‘them’ perspective and I don’t think it needs to be, but when they overstate what is outside of their realm, quite honestly that borders on the fraudulent.”

Key words here: "Outside their realm."

Which is exactly what Spigelblatt and Mack are doing. Opining on something they have no degree in, no training, no post graduate certification. What chiropractic college did they attend?

On the one hand chiropractors should not practice medicine, but its OK for medical doctors to practice chiropractic without a chiropractic license?

The logical fallacies continue to pile up.

And what media chiropractic hit piece would be complete without going after the central theory of the chiropractic profession - vertebral subluxation.

Those things don't exist do they?

The CPS recommends that:

“Parents should be made aware that there is a lack of substantiated evidence for the theory of subluxated vertebrae as the causality for illness in children.”

Kirkey also trots out everyone's favorite subluxation denier and chiropractic hater Sam Homola stating:

"Others have gone further. Writing in 2016 in the journal Bioethics, retired chiropractor Samuel Homola warned 'any attempt to manipulate the immature, cartilaginous spine of a neonate or a small child to correct a putative chiropractic subluxation should be regarded as dangerous and unnecessary.'

It's one thing to hold the chiropractic profession accountable for issues related to safety and effectiveness since all health care professions should be held accountable in this fashion. But stating that there is no evidence for vertebral subluxation is akin to stating that dental caries do not exist. Its laughable and they should be embarrassed by it.

The concept of vertebral subluxation has a rich literature and research base going back to the time of Hippocrates with the earliest English definition arising in the late 1600's.

The problem is not a lack of research or science supporting the central theory of the chiropractic profession, the problem is a lack of understanding by the medical community of the paradigm within which chiropractors manage their patients and vertebral subluxation.

Much of healthcare is mired in the pathogenic model of disease and treatment and increasingly patients are seeking out other forms of healthcare like chiropractic that do not just focus on naming and treating the disease. Instead the focus is on supporting and nurturing the inherent recuperative powers of the body towards health. This type of health care is known as "salutogenic" and such care seeks to support human health and well-being.

This is a major source of confusion amongst traditional medical providers since they are so focused on naming and treating the symptoms and diseases people come to them with. Since medical providers are trained to think and practice this way, and its how they get paid, they have nothing substantial to offer a patient who comes in and says "I want to be healthier so what can you do for me?"

When it comes to questioning whether there is research to support any health care intervention the first question that needs to be answered is "What level of evidence are you willing to accept?"

Research shows that the vast majority of medical interventions are unsupported by scientific evidence yet medical doctors still practice medicine and patients go to them for their treatments every day.

Instead, decisions regarding health care should be patient centered and evidence informed meaning that while the health care provider should consider any research that applies, they must also consider what the patient's values are and whether or not the research even applies to their particular case. Then the doctor and the patient decide together whether or not a given intervention is right for them or their family. This is truly patient centered care.

What the Canadian Pediatric Society is doing is engaging in logical fallacies. Since they live in a big glass house they really shouldn't throw stones considering that the facts are that they are the third leading cause of death every year. Because they do not want to deal with that and lose their cultural authority the CPS is engaging in scapegoating and using the chiropractic profession to misdirect the blame for their failures. 60,000 killed every year by their hands.

On the other hand what chiropractors do is minimally invasive and typically nothing else but their hands are used to gently ease any obstruction to the functioning of the patient's nervous system. Since the nervous system controls and coordinates all functions of the body it is important to be sure it is functioning as best it can with no obstructions no matter the disease afflicting the patient.

This is where the confusion comes in. Chiropractors are not treating this or that disease. They are checking to see if the patient has vertebral subluxations which obstruct the nervous system and if so they make an adjustment to the spine to remove the obstruction and from that point on its up to the person's body to do the healing.

This is the salutogenic approach to health and most likely seems quite foreign to a typical medical doctor trained to diagnose and treat symptoms and disease with sometimes dangerous drugs and surgeries.

While its understandable that this is confusing to them, the burden is also on them to get up to speed with the science and research which is light years ahead of their medical practice where much of what they are doing is no different than what was done 100 years ago. They are on the wrong side of science and history on this and they should be held accountable.

The National Post quotes "Blogger and consumer health advocate" Ryan Armstrong PhD who "has been investigating chiropractic claims" saying:

“The single most worrying thing I find is just this complete disregard for evidence and scientific truth.”

Amen Armstrong. Amen.

MORE on Medical Error in Canada

60,000 People Are Killed Every Year from Medical Care in Canada - But Chiropractors Are a Danger to Public Health?


McCoy Press