Chiropractor Breaks Baby's Neck, Allowed To Keep Practicing

Monday, 30 Sep 2013 07:52 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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An Australian chiropractor who broke a baby's neck during a repositioning is being allowed to keep practicing as long as he underwent additional education, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

It happened last year when the chiropractor, whose name as not released, treated a 4-month-old baby girl for torticollis, or what's described as an abnormal neck position. During the adjustment, the doctor accidentally fractured one of the baby's vertebrae.

"Another few millimeters and there would have been a devastating spinal cord injury and the baby would have either died or had severe neurological impairment with quadriplegia," Dr. Chris Pappas, who later treated the girl and aided in her recovery, told the Herald.

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Pappas filed a complaint with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, which later referred the case to the Chiropractic Board. He then received a letter about three weeks ago informing him that the case had been closed and the chiropractor in question had agreed to complete further education.

Pappas said the Board's decision in essence gives the OK to chiropractors to practice on infants and small children, something that he thinks is unsafe.

"I think they have put the chiropractor's interests before the interests of the public," he told the Herald. "[Treating infants] is inappropriate and it carries a very small but real risk of causing damage, and in some cases, devastating damage."

However, Laurie Tassell, president of the Chiropractors' Association of Australia, argues that it is safe to practice on a person of any age.

"Chiropractic care can be remarkably gentle," Tassell said. "Being a five-year, university-trained spinal health expert, a chiropractor will modify their adjustment techniques to suit the age and spine of each individual child."

A 2007 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that performing spinal manipulations on children could lead to adverse side effects, like brain hemorrhaging and paraplegia, the Herald reported.

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