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Chiro caught up in crackdown

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A chiropractor has been charged with false advertising in the latest action by regulators to crack down on practitioners making inflated health claims or practising outside their area of expertise.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has taken a New South Wales chiropractor to court over allegations that his website advertised services “in a way that was likely to be false, misleading or deceptive”.

The case follows recent action in which chiropractor Dr Ian Rossborough was banned from manipulating the spines of children younger than six years after a video in which he cracked the back of a four-day-old baby was made public.

In June, AHPRA imposed a number of conditions on Dr Rossborough including banning him from any chiropractic treatment of children younger than two years and excluding any spinal manipulation for two to six-year-olds. In addition, he will be subject to monitoring and assessment by the Chiropractic Board of Australia.

The cases underline long-standing AMA concerns about health professionals promoting and practising unproven therapies.

While evidence-based aspects of complementary medicine can be part of patient care, unproven therapies could put patient health at risk, either directly through misuse, or indirectly where patients defer seeking medical advice or fail to inform a treating doctor about a complementary medicine they may be taking.

The AMA said children were a particularly vulnerable group because of the complexities of diagnosing and treating their ailments, and a medical practitioner should always be informed of any diagnosis and ongoing treatment plan.

There have been several reports of chiropractors “sneaking” into maternity wards to treat newborn babies without the knowledge and consent of either hospitals or treating doctors, and the Chiropractic Board told Fairfax Media it was investigating a number of such complaints.

Chiropractic Australia President Rodney Bonello told the Sydney Morning Herald many in the profession were horrified and embarrassed by such actions.

“If there’s no [hospital] approval, then that’s a travesty and should never be acceptable,” Professor Bonello said.

The Chiropractic Board said that chiropractors must provide evidence-based care, and “are expected to practise safely and within the limits of their competency, training and expertise”.

Adrian Rollins