“Not Discrimination, Just Policy”
After the release of my latest commentary, Overcoming Chirophobia, I expected to take a break from the politics of healthcare to prepare for my upcoming vacation.
As fate would have it, I encountered an unexpected event that showed me any respite is not possible. As a soldier in the on-going medical war, unforeseen skirmishes await at any time around every corner.
Actually, this turn of events began on a positive note when I watched a video with Christine Goertz, DC, PhD, from Palmer Research who aired a short presentation on QuantiaMD website titled, “Talking to Your Patients About Chiropractic Care.”
Please take a few minutes to view her slide show; it’s quite informative as to be expected from this polished speaker who did an admirable job discussing the sociology of chiropractic in today’s healthcare.
Too bad the responses from bloggers weren’t as professional. At the end of her talk on the Q&A blog, the very first respondent illustrated that chirophobia is very much alive.
[To remind those who have not read my latest commentary, Overcoming Chirophobia, I coined the term ‘chirophobia’ as the irrational fear, antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred of chiropractors instilled by decades of medical bigotry.]
Here is the very first response to Dr. Goertz’s talk from Mary Olbrisch, Psychologist:
“My experience with DC offices includes being told I would require twice weekly lifelong treatment, patient testimonials posted on the reception area walls, and sales of vitamins and other supplements clearly outside of the DC area of expertise. These experiences led me to believe I was dealing with snake-oil salesmen who lacked professionalism and any scientific grounding for their practice.”
Wow, what a shot across the bow!
Ms. Olbrisch’s comment shows that her first impulse was to invalidate Dr. Goertz’s talk, not to ask an intelligent question about the recommended dosage or the legal scope of care, issues she broached.
Since I’ve never heard of any DC who recommends “twice weekly lifelong treatment,” I question if her account, indeed, is actually true or merely gross hyperbole.
She also seems annoyed that DCs sell vitamins stating it’s outside our “area of expertise,” and, for whatever reason, she also dismisses the use of patient testimonials.
For these reasons alone, she then paints the profession with a very broad stroke when she labels chiropractors as “snake-oil salesmen who lacked professionalism and any scientific grounding for their practice.”
Wait a minute, Ms. Olbrisch; methinks you’ve jump to a huge and baseless conclusion. Indeed, just where did that invective come from?
Let me answer my own question by suggesting, undoubtedly, it came from many years of chirophobia indoctrination. Moreover, her comment was the very first on the blog to set the tone for all others.
Now that she has my undivided attention with her unwarranted swipe at chiropractic, she raises a few questions in my mind about her qualifications, too.
May I ask where Ms. Olbrisch studied the art and science of chiropractic to make such offensive remarks? To suggest there is no “scientific grounding for their practice” is ludicrous considering there now is more evidence to support our brand of spine care than anything the medical world has to offer for the vast majority of spine-related disorders.
I also found most ironic that she would mention the issue of “scientific grounding for their practice” considering psychologists have the least scientific grounding of anyone in medical practice. She sounds reminiscent of Stephen Barrett, our old medical nemesis who was a psychotherapist, too.
Obviously Ms. Olbrisch is very uninformed, to be nice, or, I might say, very biased to be honest.
By saying the “sales of vitamins and other supplements clearly outside of the DC area of expertise” again raises the question: does Ms. Olbrisch even understand the education or scope of our practice? If she believes this particular practitioner is a “snake-oil salesman” practicing outside his scope, I suggest she report him to the state license board before she takes her uninformed allegation public.
I also find her distaste of testimonials to be odd considering I see similar testimonials constantly on TV in medical ads. Plus, since chiropractic is virtually boycotted on the news, WOC ads are among the few forms of social proof commonly used by most DCs in their offices.
After reading Ms. Olbrisch’s salacious comment, I enrolled at QuantiaMD.com to respond to her cheap shot on the blog but, to my surprise, I was denied enrollment because I am a DC.
Here’s is the response from the rep @ QuantiaMD:
Dear James Smith,
QuantiaMD is available to MD’s, DO’s, NP’s, PA’s and RN’s…Therefore, as a DC, you will continue to be able to view all of the content on our site but you will not be able to make comments or earn or redeem Q-points.
Sorry for any confusion
Member Services Representative | Quantia Inc.
Here is my response to Mr. Rosati:
This discrimination against DCs is quite shocking in this day and age. Can you explain to me who developed this policy?
Here is the next response from Mr. Rosati:
It is not a discrimination against DC’s, it is simply our company policy.
Here is my second response to Mr. Rosati:
I remain confused by this apparent paradox. Sounds like Augusta National Golf Club: “we don’t discriminate against blacks, it’s just our policy to have only white men as members.”
Considering DCs now constitute the third-largest physician-level health professionals in the world, this exclusion is unconscionable. Moreover, considering every guideline on spine care now recommends conservative chiropractic care before opioids, ESIs, and spine surgery, this obvious discrimination smacks of the days of the Committee on Quackery.
Indeed, is that your mindset?
I would love to learn the justification of your policy. Please give me the basis behind this obvious oxymoronic statement.
To date, I have not heard back from Mr. Rosati.
Time to Act Up
Clearly this omission smacks of the historical medical antipathy against chiropractors as we experienced years ago when public hospitals boycotted DCs, an issue settled by the Wilk v. AMA antitrust case.
As a private organization, just like any private hospital, QuantiaMD has the legal right to exclude anyone they want although it is clearly discriminatory, just as the Augusta National Golf Club has the legal right to exclude anyone they so choose, whether blacks, women or anyone who’s not a millionaire. But public sentiment may not be on their side, either.
What makes this case particularly annoying is that we DCs do not have the right to respond to Ms. Olbrisch’s inane remarks as if we have no freedom of speech to defend our profession. For that matter, most of the other blog responses were clearly uninformed remarks although none amounted to anything nearly as offensive.
Let’s put this into a broader political perspective: what if the FOX News website refused a LGBT person to respond to a smear by one of its right-wing homophobic pundits? What would happen if an African-American were denied access to respond after a racist remark made on CNN.com?
Of course, there would be a public uproar and media push-back despite the fact these news organizations are still private, just as QuantiaMD.com is private. Although they have the legal imperative to do what they want, there is a moral imperative to do the right thing. Unless we hold their feet to the fire, QuantiaMD obviously will stand behind their discriminatory policy.
When I contacted Dr. Goertz about this discrimination, she was aware of it and told me she was working on it behind the scene; hopefully she can rectify this inequity, although it may take more than one woman speaking alone.
Rather than swallowing our pride, turning our cheek, and biting our tongues, let me urge every DC to go to the blog and register to become a member (you will need your NPI # to register). No doubt you will be sent a similar response of rejection, too, when they discover you’re a chiropractor. However, if a few hundred or thousand DCs respond, it will give them pause to think about their discriminatory policy.
Abraham Lincoln was a master at public sentiment. At the initial Lincoln-Douglas debate in Ottawa, Illinois in August 1858, he had said: “In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions.”
Apparently the “sentiment” about chiropractors at QuantiaMD is disturbingly low, hopefully Dr. Goertz can change it privately, but it would be helpful to change the sentiment by having many chiropractors supporting this change, too.
Until we act up to change the sentiment at QuantiaMD by exposing this blatant discrimination, it will continue unabated. On the other hand, if we make noise about this insult, it might be the catalyst we need to trigger a new attitude that “we’re mad as hell and will not take it any more!”