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Chiropractors Excellent safety record with Children

May 2016

Chiropractic care has an excellent safety record with children

The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAAN) is disturbed by recent media reports concerning the role of the profession in healthcare, particularly with regards to children. 

The annual reports of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Chiropractic Board of Australia show the following: 

• 4,998 chiropractors registered in Australia on 30 June 2015.

 • Notifications (complaints) received about 1.5% of the registration base. 

What are the facts?

1. The safety record of chiropractic care is exemplary.

 2. Chiropractic care has a very high expressed satisfaction rate with patients

 3. There is a significant existing evidence base and active research base in Australia and internationally that validates chiropractic care 

4. Chiropractors are university educated, nationally regulated healthcare professionals who care for and about their patients

 What do Chiropractors do and how do they treat children?

Chiropractors currently practice in over 100 countries with legislation recognising and regulating the profession in 48 of these countries, including Australia. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), chiropractors diagnose, treat and prevent neuromusculoskeletal derangements and support general health measures in their patients, primarily through the use of manual therapy (adjustments) (1). 

The Chiropractic Board of Australia has developed a Code of Conduct for chiropractors. Good practice with children and young people involves placing the interests and wellbeing of the child or young person first and ensuring there is informed consent from the child’s parent or guardian (2). 

The risks of care and alternatives to care must be sufficiently explained to the parent or guardian and the chiropractor should identify ‘red flags’ particular to children and young people and investigate, manage, co-manage or refer to a medical practitioner as appropriate Finally, practitioners should modify all care and treatment to suit the age, presentation and development of the patient (2). 

The Chiropractic Board of Australia published a Position Statement on paediatric care in October 2015. The statement recognises that training in providing chiropractic care to children is included in accredited undergraduate chiropractic education (3) and that current research indicates the incidence of serious adverse events, either directly from manual therapy or indirectly by delayed or mis-diagnosis, is rare but real (4). Page 2 of 6 The Peak Body Representing Chiropractors www.chiropractors.asn.au

The Board emphasises best practice approaches to providing chiropractic care to children are published in peer reviewed literature (5) and this evidence should be used to guide clinical practice and ensure chiropractors provide safe care. 

Typical chiropractic care of infants and young children involves the use of low-force low-amplitude techniques in contrast to those used on the adult population which typically involve more high velocity, low-amplitude thrust in combination with a variety of low-force low-amplitude treatment procedures.

Chiropractors are taught a range of techniques and a recent European study on forces (8, 19) demonstrates that low amplitude, low force techniques are more suitable for the newborn and young children.

Can I have confidence in what Chiropractors do?

Chiropractors are regulated by the Chiropractic Board of Australia and like all other registered health care providers, must adhere to National Law and profession specific codes of conduct and guidelines. CAA acknowledges there are gaps in the knowledge base in relation to the chiropractic care of children and more research is needed. This is occurring. 

What remains unchanged is that chiropractic care has an excellent safety record with children and is delivered by educated, regulated healthcare professionals. In addition, given the patient-centric nature of chiropractic care, there is high expressed satisfaction by parents/guardians seeking care of their children. 

The profession is committed to ensuring evidence informed care is provided to patients. 

- Ends – 

Media Contact: Natasha Omar Mobile: 0431 048 390 


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