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Care provided by chiropractor to woman with leg pain (15HDC00174)
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(15HDC00174, 29 June
Chiropractor ~ Chiropractic clinic ~ Referral ~ Thyroid ~
Rights 4(1), 4(2)
A woman went to a chiropractor as she had been experiencing
ongoing pain in her leg. She had unsuccessfully seen multiple
specialists for treatment in the past. The woman completed a
patient information form where she recorded "constant pain down
left leg". The chiropractor said that he would be able to help, and
the pain could be resolved.
During the consultation the woman became emotional because of
the prospect that the pain, which she had been unable to get
adequately treated previously, might finally be relieved. The woman
said the chiropractor hugged her twice and kissed her on the cheek.
The chiropractor said he hugged her in an attempt to comfort her
but did not kiss her.
The chiropractor conducted a physical examination which included
taking the woman's blood pressure and pulse. The woman sat on the
side of the bench and the chiropractor sat on the bench facing her
with his feet on either side of the bench and took her blood
pressure. He also examined the front of the woman's neck to
determine whether her thyroid gland was normal. The chiropractor
recorded in the patient notes that the woman might have a
fluctuating thyroid function, and discussed thyroxine and a
gluten-free diet with her.
At the end of the consultation the woman asked the chiropractor
for a summary of his findings. The chiropractor provided her with
handouts about some of what was discussed, but no summary was
The woman consulted her general practitioner (GP) to confirm
whether the chiropractor's finding of a fluctuating thyroid was
correct. The GP advised the woman that she had an enlarged left
thyroid lobe but thyroxine was not required.
The woman attended a second consultation with the chiropractor
and a foot scan was completed. A further appointment was made,
which the woman later cancelled.
By not providing clear rationale for his assessment of a
fluctuating thyroid and not referring the woman to a doctor when he
suspected she may have had a dysfunctional thyroid, the
chiropractor failed to provide services to the woman with
reasonable care and skill and, accordingly, breached Right
By not keeping adequate records of the services he provided, and
failing to document all of his examination findings, the
chiropractor did not provide services that complied with relevant
professional standards and, therefore, breached Right 4(2).
Adverse comment is made about not providing a written summary of
the information discussed at the consultation, and the manner in
which the chiropractor communicated with and touched the woman.
The Deputy Commissioner recommended that the chiropractor
undertake further training on documentation and referrals; reflect
on his practice as a chiropractor and provide HDC with a written
summary of his reflection and the changes to his practice,
instigated as a result of this case; and provide a written apology
for his breaches of the Code.