As chiropractors, we quickly come to understand as we start practicing, that our profession is not universally accepted in the medical community. In my 18 years of practice in Ottawa, Canada, this has definitely been a source of frustration for me. In the past, my approach has always been to let things go and not waste my time and energy on negative opinions but instead focusing on promoting the chiropractic message and taking care of my patients. That all changed a few weeks ago when I received the following letter from a local Medical Doctor:
I would like you to reimburse my patient for the future pre-paid sessions as she presents medical contra-indications of chiropractic adjustments. She is referred to a medical specialist for some investigations for a condition under investigation at the present.
So for medical reasons, Mrs. L. cannot continue with your program.
Thanks you for your collaboration in this matter.
To be honest, it has taken me a full 3 weeks to even consider writing a response. The thought of this letter still makes me upset and angry! So many thoughts and questions come to mind every time I think about this letter. Should I waste my time and energy to write a response to this young female MD? Is it even worth it? How dare she make chiropractic recommendations for my patients! What kind of physical evaluation, xrays and nervous system scans has she done? Has she been taking care of the patient several times a week for the last 6 weeks and observing the changes I have seen? Would my 6 week care plan be questioned if I were a physiotherapist? Does she know that Mrs. L. also suffers from headaches, constipation, neck pain and chronic fatigue and is actually seeing great improvement with her symptoms? Does she know what technique and approach I have used to care for this patient? Does she know that there is a lot more to chiropractic than just the treatment of low back pain? Definitely not, and she certainly didn’t bother to ask. And by the way, the patient in question is on a financial care plan and at this point in her care actually owes me money and not the other way around. And what business of hers is it anyway what financial arrangements I have with patients…arrgg!
This MD arbitrarily decided that chiropractic care was contraindicated for Mrs. L. and used fear to dissuade her from continuing. Thankfully Mrs. L. did return to my clinic. She was, however, scared and confused and wanted to reduce the frequency of her adjustments. Mrs. L. came back but what about all the other patients that don’t come back or don’t even make it to our offices in the first place because of the scare tactics being used by their MDs? Ignorance is not bliss…
In our profession, this type of situation happens all too often. This time I decided enough is enough. My goal in writing about my experience with Dr. X. and sharing my response to her is to hopefully help other chiropractors learn from my experience so they can be better prepared to turn this type of frustrating situation into a potential “educational opportunity”. Here is my response to Dr. X.:
Dear Dr. X.,
I received your letter regarding Mrs. L.’s chiropractic care. I am shocked, to say the least, that you would make “chiropractic” recommendations to my patient without the professional courtesy of consulting with me or taking the time to review the findings of Mrs. L.’s chiropractic examination which included a full review of her health history, physical examination, nervous system scans and xrays, as well as what was her care plan and ongoing progress.
As a chiropractor, I am trained to detect and correct misalignments of the spine called subluxations which create interference in the nervous system. My goal is to correct these subluxations for greater function and overall optimal health. I fully understand that you have not been trained as a chiropractor and would welcome you to drop by my clinic, which has been serving the community for the past 18 years, so that I can explain and show you the tools, technologies and techniques that I use in order to assess, care for and monitor my patient’s progress.
My top priority, as I am sure is also yours, is always the well being of my patients and I am certainly not disputing your conclusion that Mrs. L. may require further medical testing. I can assure you that chiropractic care has not, in any way, endangered this patient or aggravated her symptoms. In the 6 weeks that Mrs. L. has been under my care, there has been a marked improvement in her headaches, neck pain, low back pain, bilateral foot pain and numbness as well as a increase in her energy level. I have also recommended that Mrs. L. stop running and have been working with her to modify her exercise routine as some of the exercises she was doing were clearly making her symptoms worse. Her new custom orthotics are also showing some promising results with her foot pain and numbness.
Despite our differences, it is important that we work together to provide the best possible care for our patients. In the future, as a professional courtesy, I would ask that you take the time to consult with me rather than making arbitrary decisions regarding my patient’s chiropractic care. I can be reached at (613) 8XX-28XX should you wish to discuss this matter further.
Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp., B.Sc., D.C.
I truly believe that it was my responsibility, as a local chiropractor who has been in the community for many years, to respond to this medical doctor’s letter. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had only been in practice for a few years when I received this letter?
Would I have had the confidence to respond? Eighteen years of seeing miracles every day, of seeing entire families get healthier and stay healthier and seeing my patients achieve their full potential because of chiropractic care made it an easier decision even if I was beyond frustrated.
While I am almost certain that she won’t take me up on the offer to visit my practice, I have at least planted a seed and perhaps turned a source of frustration into an educational opportunity (plus I don’t like to be told what I can or can’t do with my own patients, blame it on my stubborn French Canadian side). Be polite, be respectful, but do speak your mind and stand up for what you believe in. People NEED us to stand up and share the chiropractic message now more than ever. They NEED to know what we do and how we can help them. Stay tuned, there just “might” be a follow-up blog coming soon!
P.S. I also sent her a link to the AboutRealHealth.com website so that she can watch the 90+ video testimonials and success stories from chiropractic patients from all over North America.