Articles by JCS
“Docs Not Honest”
So what else is new
I read with amusement the recent article “Study: Doctors not always honest with patients” (by Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press, Feb. 9, 2012). She refers to a survey conducted by a Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Lisa Iezzoni. Issues revealed among the 1,800 MDs surveyed included that some doctors were prone to be less than totally honest with patients about treatment mistakes, overly optimistic about prognoses, using exaggerations to scare patients, and failure to communicate to patients their options to make fully informed decisions. According to this report, “1 in 10 surveyed say they’d told a patient something that wasn’t true in the past year.”
As a 30-year chiropractic practitioner, I would like to add the most glaring untruth practiced by most, but not all, MDs is their well known defamation of chiropractors. It is common knowledge that medical bigotry is still paramount among most MDs and within medical schools. Although racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and homophobic prejudices have waned over the past few decades, the medical discrimination against chiropractic remains entrenched.
This medical bigotry not only hurts the image of chiropractors, but it hurts patients and flies in the face of ethics and science. Modern research that began at Emory University in 1990 revealed the basis of spine surgery—the abnormal disc theory—to be invalid. Today spine researchers refer to disc abnormalities like herniation and degeneration as “incidentalomas” because they are a part of the natural aging process like finding gray hair. In many cases, researchers found patients without pain to have abnormal discs while others patients with pain had none. Yet disc surgeries continue to increase in Georgia and the United States.
On the other hand, as far back as 1994 an agency for the US Public Health Service did a two-year study on acute low back pain in adults that included over 4,000 scientific articles and concluded that spinal manipulation was the preferred treatment in most cases. Other studies from Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States have confirmed that not only are spine surgeries unnecessary (with the exceptions of cancer, fracture, serious infections, or those rare cases that don’t respond to conservative care), but epidural steroid injections and opioid narcotics are also ineffective, costly, dangerous, and addictive.
Recently the North Carolina Blue Cross /Blue Shield insurance company changed its policy that now states it will no longer pay for spinal fusion if the sole criteria is herniated or degenerated discs. They also cited the same research that shows disc abnormalities are a common part of the aging process. Hopefully this will sweep through all the states to save people from these often debilitating and unnecessary surgeries.
Ironically, after nearly a century of persecution and defamation, the chiropractic profession has not only survived the medical war, but not stands vindicated as the best choice for most back pain problems that are often caused by joint dysfunction, which explains why manipulation, decompression, massage, and other hands-on therapies are so effective. Considering there are 137 joints in the spine, most spinal disorders begin with these primary spinal misalignments that secondarily cause disc and pinched nerve problems.
The sad fact is most MDs today are aware that the disc theory is outdated. They also know drugs, shots, and disc surgeries are expensive, ineffective, and unnecessary. More so, they also know chiropractic care is the preferred treatment for 85% of back pain cases, yet very few have the ethics to refer to chiropractors for fear of retribution from their own medical colleagues.
Although this Harvard survey admits 10% of MDs lied to patients over the last year, I daresay 90% of MDs have lied to their patients about chiropractors. If you want to test your doctor’s ethics, ask him or her about chiropractic care and if you are given the usual slander, run as fast as you can from that office. It is past time to confront this medical bigotry as the last bastion of prejudice that has harmed the well-being of patients as well as the reputations of chiropractors.
JC Smith, MA, DC