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Highly CommendedComment and Opinion

Chiropractic Board of Australia

This site was Highly Commended in the 2012 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:

The Chiropractic Board is Highly Commended for two outstanding public relations coups. The first is getting government recognition (including a "" domain name) as some sort of overseeing body controlling the way chiropractic is practised in Australia. This government recognition gives this particular form of quackery an aura of legitimacy, because there are similar boards controlling branches of real medicine. The second is to convince sensible people who should know better that chiropractic has thrown aside its old opposition to vaccination and now supports it. This has even taken in people who work within groups opposed to quackery and vaccination denial. I have written elsewhere about the "halo effect" but I was surprised to see it working on highly trained medical researchers and doctors.

In summary, here is everything the Chiropractic Board of Australia has to say about vaccination:

  • Chiropractors should "understand the principles of immunisation against communicable diseases". There is no requirement for chiropractors to be vaccinated themselves or to recommend it to their clients.
  • In accordance with the boilerplate document templates applying to all medical practitioners, chiropractors must not state that their "services can be a substitute for public health vaccination or immunisation".
  • The only recommended and accepted Continuing Professional Education related to vaccination is an eight-hour video course created and sold by a US chiropractor who runs a web site which is implacably opposed to vaccination and contains all the usual lies about the dangers. Here is a synopsis of one of the lessons:

The mercury! Won't someone think of the children?

Chiropractic – quackery to the core (10/12/2012)
One of the greatest confidence tricks in alternative medicine is the way that chiropractors have managed to convince even people who should know better that the profession is some legitimate form of medicine and has thrown off its history. One area in which they have supposedly entered the real world is that they now officially support vaccination, unlike the position in the past which saw chiropractors as the leading form of opposition from any area of alternative medicine with a veneer of respectability.

To understand why chiropractors would oppose vaccination, it is on a simple risk/benefit ratio. As the basic tenet of chiropractic is that all disorders of the human body are caused by restricted flow of vital energy through the spine there can be no place for bacteria or viruses in the etiology of disease. Because vaccination carries some risk but offers no protection against misalignment of the spine there is no benefit, so there can be no justification for doing it. No germs, no need to protect against germs.

Oh, chiropractors will pretend that they support vaccination, but it is lip service only. I've been at a trade show where the professional society for chiropractors was handing out blatantly anti-vaccination material, but when challenged it was all weasel words and "we think parents should have a choice".

You can read the rest of this article here.

Chiropractors are unhappy! Sob, sob! (13/7/2013)
Some of my friends appeared in a television show this week about chiropractic. Chiropractors are not happy, because the show wasn't a complete pander to their delusions of making a meaningful contribution to public health.

I congratulate the ABC Catalyst program for presenting a balanced view of this form of quackery. My opinion about this nonsense is well known, so I will allow the video to stand on its own for now. I will however make special mentions of Dr Mick Vagg's wonderful statement about how we don't turn to magic carpets because planes crash, and how could I resist another distribution of Mr John Cunningham's lovely facepalm.

Chiropractic cleanout? (10/8/2013)
Everyone has been getting very excited over the last week because the government-sanctioned Chiropractic Board of Australia has announced that it is going to have a mighty crack-down on chiropractors who spread lies about vaccination. (I would have avoided the dreadful "crack-down" pun used by all media outlets reporting this, but it comes directly from the CBA. They wrote the material.) Here is the media release from the CBA.

8 August 2013
Board cracks down to protect public

The Chiropractic Board of Australia is cracking down on chiropractors who step outside their primary role as healthcare practitioners and provide treatment that puts the public at risk.

To protect public safety, the Board has:

  • ordered practitioners to remove all anti-vaccination material from their websites and clinics
  • removed several courses from the list of approved CPD programs, and
  • introduced random audits of practitioner compliance with the Board's registration standards.

Details of the Board's initiatives are published in the report of its July Board meeting.

Board Chair, Dr Phillip Donato OAM, said the Board took its core role of protecting the public extremely seriously.

"We know the vast majority of Australia's 4,600 chiropractors work effectively to provide high quality care in the best interests of their patients," Dr Donato said.

"However, the Board takes a very strong view of any practitioner who makes unsubstantiated claims about treatment which is not supported within an evidence-based context," he said.

"We will not tolerate registered chiropractors giving misleading or unbalanced advice to patients, or providing advice or care that is not in the patient's best interests."

The Board's Code of Conduct, published at, details its expectations of the chiropractic profession.

"We hold chiropractors to account against the standards set out in the code and anyone with any concerns about individual registered chiropractors should bring these to the Board," Dr Donato said.

Other codes and guidelines are published on the Board's website, including position statements about:

  • Statement on the provision of health information by the Chiropractic Board of Australia
  • Statement by the Chiropractic Board of Australia on paediatric care

The Board also cautioned chiropractors about marketing and promotional activities that breach the advertising requirements in the National Law. Section 133.1.e of the National Law specifically rules out directly or indirectly encouraging the "indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services".

Chiropractic Board of Australia

G.P.O. Box 9958 | Melbourne VIC 3001 | | 1300 419 495

"The Board reminds chiropractors that they need to comply with the Law and the standards set by the Board. We take a very dim view of any practitioner who does not put the best interests of their patients first," Dr Donato said.

I am far less sanguine about this than many of my friends. My prediction is that chiropractors will carry on as before opposing vaccination, sorry "advising their customers of the potential dangers of vaccines", and not a single chiropractor will be deregistered and pushed out of business by this. Oh, there might be some PR-worthy wrist-slapping but that will be all. The Board really has little influence over what chiropractors say or do, but a little lip service and window-dressing never goes astray.

The professional body of chiropractors (with about 50% of them belonging to it), the Chiropractors' Association of Australia, has already expressed disquiet at the Board's threat and suggested that the responsibility of chiropractors to provide "good" advice to customers overrides any attempt by the Board to pander to people who don't understand the value of a good neck snap.

Two things in the media release are encouraging, however.

The Chiropractic Board of Australia is cracking down on chiropractors who step outside their primary role as healthcare practitioners and provide treatment that puts the public at risk.

That should mean that neck twisting is out because of the well-known and proven danger of cerebral artery damage caused by chiropractors doing sudden and sharp manipulations of the cervical spine. Then there are the people put at risk because they go to a chiropractor instead of a doctor and therefore miss out on correct diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, but that is a general and valid criticism of all "alternative" medicine.

"However, the Board takes a very strong view of any practitioner who makes unsubstantiated claims about treatment which is not supported within an evidence-based context," he said.

Well, there goes the whole of chiropractic. Take out the stuff that's not based on evidence and there's nothing left. Perhaps we can look forward to a coming Board meeting when they follow the example set by the gay-bashing Exodus International organisation and announce that the whole chiropractic thing is over and they apologise to all the people deceived since DD Palmer invented the scam and his son worked out how to turn it into a business.

Oh, to any chiropractors who object to my use of the word "customers" and would prefer "patients", I say "Dear Mr X, when you are a doctor, not just someone who likes to be called 'Doctor', I will use the word 'patients', but not before".

Chiropractors in the news (28/9/2013)
Chiropractic has been getting its share of publicity lately, and to my great pleasure this attention has been focused on the uselessness and dangers of this particular form of medical charlatanism. In July Australia's premier television science show had a look inside the profession, and this week two expos's have appeared. The first is an article in the Sun Herald newspaper.

Image from a chiropractor's Facebook page
Abuse happened at North Eastern Community Hospital, Adelaide

Call for age limit after chiropractor breaks baby's neck

Julia Medew, Amy Corderoy
Published: September 29, 2013

A baby's neck has been broken by a chiropractor in an incident doctors say shows the profession should stop treating children.

The injury was reported to the Chiropractic Board of Australia, which closed the case without reporting it to the public and allowed the chiropractor to keep practising as long as they undertook education with an ''expert in the field of paediatric chiropractic".

The Sun-Herald has also seen evidence that chiropractors have been entering Sydney hospitals, including neo-natal intensive care wards and surgical wards, to treat patients without the required permission.

You can read the rest here.

This story is disturbing for several reasons, but the title and the first three paragraphs provide a good summary.

  1. Chiropractors have no business touching children of any age. (I would be happy if the minimum age for treatment by one of these quacks were to be legislated to be 120 years.) There is nothing that they can provide that can increase the well-being of infants. Adults might get a placebo effect from hearing pops from their backs but babies won't and should not be exposed to the dangers of this unregulated form of sympathetic magic.
  2. I have written before about the uselessness of the Chiropractic Board of Australia, which only exists to provide a veneer of respectability to chiropractic so that its practitioners can say "See, we are just like real doctors". In a clear case of negligence and inappropriate treatment leading to severe injury the best they can (or will) do is hide the problem and tell the quack to get advice from another quack. The expression ''expert in the field of paediatric chiropractic" is precisely analogous to ''expert in the field of unicorn metabolism" or ''expert in the field of exorcising ghosts". When the discipline is meaningless expertise means nothing.
  3. Real doctors and other medical staff have to jump through many hoops before they are even allowed to go near patients in hospitals, and this even applies to relatives. Nobody is allowed to treat children without undergoing police checks; nobody can treat any patient without the institution's permission and without it being part of a treatment plan (and an emergency creates its own plan); nobody can just walk in, no matter what expertise they have, and start work even if everything they might need to know is on the documentation at the end of the patient's bed. Nobody! Not doctors, not nurses, not specialist doctors, not ambulance paramedics. Nobody. Except chiropractors, who lie that they are just visiting someone.

You might think that this last point is something that happens rarely, but my friend Peter (who prefers to be called Reasonable Hank to protect his privacy and shield him from attack) has done a comprehensive analysis of chiropractors' Facebook comments and pages and has found that the practice seems to be widespread. It also seems to be condoned by the Chiropractors' Association of Australia, which is hardly surprising given that members of the various CAA committees admit to this sort of unethical behaviour.

See Reasonable Hank's article here

People have said that the Chiropractic Board of Australia should do something about this, but why would anyone expect it to do more than hand waving and platitudes. It's not there to regulate or control chiropractic, it's there to give the "profession" a professional appearance. Its response to a child with a broken neck shows what it finds acceptable. People have said that the Chiropractors' Association of Australia should do something about this, but why would anyone expect a club for charlatans to try to do anything about its members following its leaders' example.

There is only one way to fix chiropractic, make it safe and force practitioners to behave ethically. That is to close it down completely and consign it to the rubbish bin of history along with blood-letting, cauterising and the four humours. It was invented in 1897 and became obsolete three minutes later. Why is it still here?

And if you think it can't be silly as well as dangerous and useless, here is picture from a chiropractor's Facebook page showing him adjusting a turtle. Please remember that the turtle's shell is part of its spine and the plates in it are totally unmovable.

Chiropractors under threat. As if! (23/3/2019)
Politicians have been horrified after being told that chiropractors do things that we've all known about for years and which lie outside any boundaries of what could be called proper medical practice. Things will be done! Action this day! And the Chiropractic Board of Australia will act immediately to stamp out these dreadful practices.

(Sorry about the picture. The actual newspaper has one of the most impenetrable paywalls
known to exist. You can read the words here.)

Here's a summary:

And here's a prediction: three years from now chiropractors will still be "adjusting" the spines of babies and young children, still doing dangerous things like sudden neck manipulations, still sticking fingers into places in children where they don't belong and still claiming that the only chiropractors doing any of this are rogues.

Chiropractors crack me up (sorry!) (30/3/2019)
I managed to get a copy of the Chiropractic Board of Australia's advice to chiropractors about fiddling with children's backs, and I was right. Everyone's talking about a ban but the actual words are "The Board advises chiropractors to not use spinal manipulation to treat children under two years of age, pending the recommendations arising from the independent expert review". Note, "advises", not "instructs", and the advice only goes on until the meaningless review is done. if the "recommendations" of that review say "It should not be done" then the CBA will jump on the inherent uncertainty in "should not" and advise caution. If the "recommendations" say "It must not be done" then the CBA will say something ambiguous and get prepared to frequently say "rogue". You can read the self-serving drivel from the CBA by clicking on the picture over there on the right.

The CBA has led to the creation of a new simile – "As useless as a warning from the Chiropractic Board of Australia".

Australia's most trusted current affairs television program decided to take a look at some of the excesses of chiropractic, and I assume that chiropractors aren't happy about the result. Of course, anything that makes chiropractors unhappy makes me happy. You can click on the image to see the program. Note the prevarication from the man from the CBA.

As my friend Mr (he's a surgeon!) John Cunningham was in the piece it's probably time to revisit his famous facepalm when asked about chiropractic in a previous show.

Those whacky chiropractors (24/4/2021)
I was told during the week by a chiropractor that cases of concussion should be immediately treated by chiropractic adjustment to limit any damage. I had a fall a couple of years ago and I spent a night in hospital being regularly checked for signs of concussion. If at any time I had felt the need to consult a chiropractor I would have interpreted that as evidence of deeper brain damage and demanded a scan to see what had gone wrong.

Interestingly, the "rules" covering what chiropractors can say or do would have making such a claim an offence. Action by the Chiropractic Board of Australia (a body recognised by the government as some sort of legitimate medical oversight board) would have been an immediate "Please don't say that", just as they have done when any chiropractor has broken the rules in the past.

If you want a good laugh you can see the Code of Conduct for chiropractors here.

And here's something amazing. Chiropractors like to be addressed as "Doctor" and put "Dr" in front of their names, despite not being actual medical doctors of any kind. The amazing thing is that the title "Chiropractor" is a protected term under the law, meaning that only people with the relevant qualifications can call themselves that, but "Doctor" is not protected and anybody can use the title.


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