In defence of liberty. A discussion of chiropractic care of children in light of recent events.
The news broke on the 21st of February 2019 and sent reverberations around Australia.
A chiropractor was caught treating a 2- week old baby, on a Facebook video. The clip did the rounds all over the media. Papers, online news and twitter were up in arms. The chiropractic community was sent into a full tailspin. Accusations, anger and arguments were flying thick and fast between chiropractors, patients and parents.
It’s what Chiropractor’s dread most. Anti-chiropractic, negative media exposure.
Goodness we have a lot of it of it over the years, some of it justified, some of it cynical defamation and political manoeuvring.
So I watched the video and I must say I was rather disappointed.
Not at the chiropractor, or even the treatment.
No, I was disappointed at the shear non- event, tameness of the video. How had this video gained so much traction and polarised opinion so much?
As far as I am aware, not one person, or baby was hurt.
But everyone was angry.
Chiropractors, who treat paediatric patients as a large part of their business, were furious. They decried their fellow chiropractor at the centre of the furore saying, “Why did he put this video up?” Even though the same chiropractors would treat a baby in a similar manner, in their view, the treatment wasn’t wrong, just the existence of the video.
Some members of the evidence-based chiropractic community (of which I sympathise with), who are staunchly academic and usually refuse to do anything if evidence is lacking and who also count many non- practicing and somewhat resentful chiropractors in their ranks, were delighted with the baby treating expose. “Good! They gushed, “Finally the government will come down hard on those embarrassing chiropractors who are destroying our reputation! Maybe now Chiropractic will be forced to follow a narrower but more uniform ideal of what Chiropractors should think and treat. Hopefully organised Medicine will finally respect us!”
Social media was alight with huge arguments of parents calling for bans in shear horror. Some stood up in support of the chiropractors right to treat children. Anecdotal examples of miracle chiropractic care for terrible colic and crying were put forth like testaments of a new religion.
And then I got annoyed.
Not at the debate of whether chiropractic care is effective for paediatric care and the ins and outs of the exact evidence. That is an important conversation, but not an issue I will cover today.
No. I was annoyed at the response of government.
A weak capricious government completely manipulated by the outrage, mainstream media machine. Media companies like Chanel Nine and programs like the 7.30 report who while trying to claw onto their fast fading cultural significance, spread salacious and defamatory stories, without thought to the old values of facts, truth and fair reporting. The mainsteam media is like an old, wounded lion, far more dangerous when fighting for survival.
The video moved me to compassion for the chiropractor I had never met. I can imagine he is probably going through hell, though to my current knowledge, no medicolegal complaint has been instigated against him.
The ABC reported (in the link below) that the Chiropractor had been censored by the Chiropractic Board and prevented from treating kids up to age twelve.
The Chiropractic Board is part of AHPRA, which stands for the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency. I am puzzled at their censorship ruling on the Chiropractor. Why can’t he treat children up to age 12? Why not 13? Why not up to age 1 year if he was treating a 2-week-old baby? Why not every patient if he is so evil? It’s such a strange arbitrary number that has not been explained and most importantly, justified to chiropractors and the public.
This concession is based on weakness, not truth or fair justice.
How can this government agency have the right to stop the Chiropractor treating kids, when there is no evidence he has caused injury to the child and no conviction of guilt by a jury?
This heavy-handedness of influenced- governmental control worries me. It affects my business, not because I treat huge amounts of babies, I’m lucky to see one a year. But it does affect my profession and my right to continue to practice the way I see fit, in accordance to my own conscience, informed by best practice evidence.
More importantly it affects the rights of mothers to seek care as they see fit in accordance with their own beliefs. Is government so arrogant to believe they have the right to control how a parent should bring up their own children?
These are real question’s which must be debated carefully. They affect the wider debate on governmental control and free will according to conscience.
Will we preserve liberty under law in our society, to act and do as we see fit as long as we harm no one else? If the government can take away and manipulate the purview of chiropractors so strongly, without just provocation, how safe is holistic medicine and paediatric physiotherapy? How safe is the vitamin and supplement industry?
So let’s look at the video in the below.
From the public’s point of view, I can understand if this causes unease. A baby is crying and a chiropractor is holding the little innocent child upside down. Evidently distress equals abuse of power.
Such a view is based off ignorance and a superficial understanding of the facts. This is a perfect breeding ground for contention and media manipulation.
What are we meant to think when we watch this video? Well, let me satirise the ridiculousness of this situation to gain a deeper understanding.
The media would have us believe that we are watching the horrible abuse of a small, innocent, 2-week-old baby by a Chiropractor in Melbourne, using the ritualised, blood sacrifice technique of chiropractic care.
Unfortunately from the media’s view, the chiropractor in question, Andrew Arnold, of Cranbourne Chiropractic was NOT wearing a trump hat! There was no bleeding nor a massive “crack” of a displaced vertebrae. Most troubling (for the media) is the complete absence of a child’s body, with a tearful interview of the devastated mother and father.
It must be getting hard to construct a bogeyman narrative when there is so little to go on. But the media have done their best to make a mountain out of a molehill and drag an entire profession down to their scavenger, bottom feeder level. Andrew Arnold is a white, male chiropractor! This unholy trinity is easily manufactured as proof of guilt of the Chiropractor as a baby abusing charlatan.
“Ah but Jono The Chiropractor did hold a baby upside down though,” I hear you say.
Yes, he did. For a vast interval of 2 seconds. I measured it.
It must have been shear agony for the child. Certainly, he intended to dash the child’s head against the wall if Ben (the husband) hadn’t so carefully and gently lowered the baby to the table?
In reality vertically upending the child would not harm it at all.
Now consider when this video was recorded.
Half a year ago!
If there was a significant injury to the child it would not have taken 6 months to gain traction in the media. It would have been front page news, immediately.
Primum non nocere
That means. First, do no harm. In Latin!
It’s one of the founding precepts of medicine and an essential component of the Hippocratic oath that medical students make. Don’t make a problem worse.
And the baby was not harmed. Nor did the parents complain.
So, what is happening in the video?
Andrew (the chiropractor) is using a spring loaded, chiropractic device called an Activator. No, not an Ak-47, an activator, capable of tiny forces similar to the flicking of a finger over tiny distances of 2 mm. It can’t hurt a child. And if for arguments sake you believe it can, then it did not hurt this child.
Andrew takes the hand of the father who is called Ben and performs the gentle activator “click” force on his wrist. Ben has the opportunity to protest and say, “No Stop! Don’t do this to my child”. But he does not. Evidently, he is happy with the tiny force of the treatment.
While handling the child, Andrew reminds the parents about “what we talked about”. This means the parents have consented and understand the treatment about to take place. This is good medicolegal practice. They understand the risks, know the process and hopefully understand the treatment plan.
Yes, the baby is crying! But no, that isn’t proof of harm.
Babies cry a lot. It’s probably why the parents have taken the Baby to the Chiropractor in the first place. It does no harm and they have tried everything else, why not try chiropractic?
Provided there is no non- musculoskeletal problem that needs specialist referral then I see no justification for banning Chiropractic care of infants.
But Chanel Nine, Master of armchair outrage had the following to say about it.
It would almost be comical if it wasn’t so horribly disingenuous.
The chiropractor did not manipulate the child.
I will say that again.
He did not manipulate the child!
So naturally Victoria’s Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos has ordered an enquiry into Chiropractic manipulative care of Children up to age 12. Yep there it is again! That golden 12 number! It’s almost cult like in its strange non justified stateliness.
“It was extremely disturbing to watch a 2-week-old baby have their neck and spine manipulated”
The ignorance and stupidity of this politician has led her to sanction a governmental review into Chiropractic based on a lie.
The honourable Jenny Mikakos gets to look strong and caring to the public, by censoring a minor profession for not manipulating a child.
The cynical genius of this is that there is very little Chiropractors can do to stop this smear campaign. It’s an empty concession to medicine, media and society because Chiropractors are such a minority. The numbers of Chiropractic baby treatments in Australia are ridiculously low that, who really cares if the right of treatment of children is taken away from Chiropractic? Jenny will chalk it up as a political victory that will increase her standing in the eyes of the public. Medicine gets to look important and stately for coming down hard on those chiropractic quacks while thanking their lucky stars that the media has stopped talking about the ridiculous amounts of Opioid addiction and failed back surgery that happened on their uncaring watch for decades, enriching their pockets and sanctioned under the blind, uncaring eye of government regulation.
Jenny Mikakos is a political player who utilises the usual hard left, shaming techniques. She was once suspended from parliament for calling the entire liberal and national party “racist,” a lazy and tired smear now equalled by her characterisation of chiropractors as a danger to the public.
In this case however, maligning and shaming works extremely well as Chiropractors don’t have the political clout or professional unity to reject such characterisations. We are a regulated, minority profession and therefore cannot strongly resist further regulation. We survive on the whims of Governmental control. The following is the stated purpose of Safer Care Victoria Review Of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation in children under age 12.
“On 8 March 2019, the COAG Health Council noted community concerns about unsafe spinal manipulation on children performed by chiropractors and agreed that public protection was paramount in resolving this issue. The Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos has asked Safer Care Victoria to lead an independent review of the practice of spinal manipulation on children under 12 years, and for the findings of that review to be provided to her for reporting to the COAG Health Council, including any need for changes to the national law”.
Safer Care Victoria is a governmental organisation disguised as an independent regulator. Its purpose can be summarised in the words of Euan Wallace, the Chief Executive Officer in his introductory manifesto on the purview of Safer Care Victoria.
“We were born out of a review of Victoria’s hospital quality and safety assurance – Targeting Zero: supporting the Victorian hospital system to eliminate avoidable harm and strengthen quality of care. The review itself was undertaken in response to a major health service governance failure. A failure that none of us ever wish to witness again”
So they were set up to fix the Victorian Hospital System. Stopping harms and improving patient care. So did they do it? Did they fix it? Or did they get bored at the shear impossibility of such a task and look for greener pastures by punching down at a minority, “unscientific” profession, to gain political relevance and purpose?
Euan, who will also chair the Chiropractic Review goes on to state.
“Above all, at Safer Care Victoria we are committed to elevating the consumer to be a genuine partner in her/his own healthcare. Easy to write. Much more difficult to deliver”
Ah Euan, getting all soft over the lofty ideals of consumer liberty.
And so incredibly hypocritical. Hypocritical because Euan will chair an organisation aimed at restricting this exact right. The right to seek care from a practitioner of your choice without being banned by some Governmental agency under the guise of “public safety”.
I treat kids under age 12, not often, but every now and then. Chiropractors and I will fall under suspicion of manipulating children even if we utilise other, alternative treatment interventions. It will create distrust and unease. Doctors may censor patients for attending Chiropractic services. Chiropractors will all be guilty by association because of this lie, this slander.
The medicolegal system in this country is more than enough to sue a chiropractor into bankruptcy if he so much as sneezes on a child. There is already legal recourse against a practitioner who harms a child. Why then is regulation needed in this case?
No more allaying a mother’s concern about Little Johnny’s in- toeing, no helping that little girl’s horrible torticollis, no treating that stuck thoracic spine of that very active 10-year-old basketballer. Nothing below age 12….
I am annoyed that government will even suggest that they have the right to tell me who and what I can treat, because of the opinion of some clueless lying Victorian Governmental official who has unleashed the dogs of an organisational fiefdom that is not representative of my profession, and has not been elected by the people and should be accountable to the democratic process.
This whole video became an issue not because of the actions of the Chiropractor but because someone wants to control what parents can and can’t do. The government, and some medical professionals believe that they know best, that their opinion is worth more than the free will and liberty of the poor, ignorant parents and the business interests of a regulated profession.
The colossal arrogance of such assertions is breathtaking.
How dare they?
The government should stop condescending down from the supposed position of morality and public good. It is not the role of Government to tell parents how they should bring up their children, nor should it overrule the authority and choices a parent makes for their own children.
The free market is widely accepted as the best system to work out what goods and services should be bought and sold in a successful society. Every economist understands this.
Why then try to bludgeon a family’s conscience and a Chiropractors business with dictatorial governmental control? Governmental control based on a lie, that may influence policy throughout Australia.
I am writing in defence of personal liberty.
Liberty of the right of Chiropractors to treat and offer care and advice to patients and children that may benefit.
Liberty of the right of Parents to seek care that they believe will help their kids.
Liberty for the Chiropractor to not be censored by the board (AHPRA) when due process and trial by Law has not judged the Chiropractor guilty of any offence.
The enquiry starts this week. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it. I will remain positive. In some ways if they ban Chiropractic care of kids, then Chiropractic visits will go through the roof! Censorship of ideas and thought has never worked in a free an open society.
People will treat kids without registration outside of the law in spite of the government’s findings. Other practitioners and professions will step into the space vacated by chiropractic without censure and because they are more politically liked but not necessarily for the betterment of patient care (competition is always better for the consumer).
I do hope we don’t reach that point however. It becomes so tiresome to keep justifying one’s existence.
I am Jonathan King the individual first and foremost, a chiropractor whose thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not representative of my profession. Just like the chiropractor Andrew Arnold is not representative of me. I don’t know him nor can I vouch for his reputation or character. I will however, stand up and defend my profession against the tyranny of unjust governmental regulation, and the salacious lies of media defamation that lit the bonfire to begin with.
Please Government, stay out of peoples lives and go ban something else.
By Dr Jonathan King, Chiropractor.