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The need for a chiropractic adverse events reporting system in Australia

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To the Editor: Following media reports of a complaint to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency regarding a 4-month-old baby’s neck fracture following chiropractic treatment for apparent torticollis,1 the president of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia stated that “not a single serious adverse event has been recorded in the literature (worldwide) involving a qualified chiropractor treating a child since 1992”.2 However, an examination of the medical literature on adverse events related to chiropractic reveals an interesting story. A PubMed search for “chiropractic adverse event(s)” identifies 18 primary research papers since 1992 that could be classified as examining adverse events, none of which were Australian.

Why are there no Australian reports of adverse events associated with chiropractic manipulation? The answer is strikingly simple — there is currently no adverse events reporting system for chiropractic in Australia. This lack of local data means we have to look internationally to gauge the likelihood of chiropractic adverse events. A 2002 Canadian study3 describes 23 cases of vertebral artery dissection associated with chiropractic manipulation over a 10-year…