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What are some examples of chiropractor malpractice?

Chiropractor malpractice occurs when a patient is injured because a chiropractor did not provide the accepted standard of care within the chiropractic profession. The following examples will demonstrate common types of chiropractor malpractice.

Failure to diagnosis a medical condition that requires immediate care

Mr. Brown seeks chiropractic treatment for numbness and tingling in the legs. The chiropractor says his symptoms are caused by compression in the spine and orders ten treatment sessions, the maximum allowed by the Mr. Brown’s insurance. During the course of treatment, Mr. Brown has a fatal heart attack. The doctors at the hospital determine the heart attack was caused by peripheral artery disease, a condition that causes numbness and tingling in the legs. Mr. Brown’s death could have been prevented had he seen a medical doctor and received medication for his condition.

Like any other medical professional, a chiropractor has a duty to put the patient’s health first. This duty includes a responsibility to recognize the underlying medical condition causing the patient’s symptoms and a responsibility to refer the patient for medical care when it is needed. If a chiropractor fails to diagnose the problem or neglects to make a medical referral, he may be held liable for the resulting injury.

Lack of informed consent

Ms. Clark works at a computer and suffers from neck and upper back pain. She visits the chiropractor regularly. At first, the treatments make her feel better, but soon she starts feeling pain radiating down her arm to her thumb and index finger. When it doesn’t go away, she sees a doctor. The doctor says she has a herniated disc that is causing cervical radiculopathy, a possible complication of neck adjustment. Ms. Clark is stunned. She thought her chiropractic treatment was risk-free. She was never told of possible complications.

Prior to providing any chiropractic adjustments or other care, a chiropractor must inform his patient of all risks associated with the course of treatment. The chiropractor may be liable for malpractice if he does not explain the risks and the patient suffers an injury as a result of the treatment.

Negligent manipulation of the body

Ms. Clark is also a victim of negligent manipulation of the body. Negligent manipulation of the body occurs when chiropractic treatment creates new injuries or worsens an existing injury. Injuries associated with chiropractic adjustment include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Broken ribs
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Nerve damage
  • Pinched nerves
  • Sciatic nerve pain
  • Neck pain
  • Lower back pain

Pregnant patients may go into earlier labor as a result of chiropractic manipulation.

Chiropractic induced stroke

Occasionally, a chiropractor’s manipulation of the neck will cause damage to one of the arteries that carries blood to the brain. This can cause a stroke. There have been hundreds of cases of strokes that have occurred after aggressive chiropractic manipulation of the neck. Experts believe this is an underestimate because few doctors think to ask a stroke victim if he is receiving chiropractic treatment.

When chiropractic treatment causes an injury, the victim and his family have a right to accountability and compensation. To discuss your Illinois chiropractor malpractice claim, please contact the Bloomington personal injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham at 866-532-4800.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham