I was recently interviewed about some Chiropractic Malpractice cases we handled. They involved strokes that occurred during neck manipulations. You can watch the interview below:
For some reason many people seem to have strong feelings about chiropractors, both good and bad. For instance my wife swears by her chiropractor. She goes to her for all types of aches, pains and other health reasons. To the contrary, others are suspicious of chiropractic treatment. At the very least some of the more skeptical people believe the treatment is unproven and unwarranted. Regardless, when we try a chiropractor malpractice case it is very important to have a very detailed vetting process when picking the jury. This helps ensure that everyone involved in the case gets a fair trial.
Whatever your personal feelings are on the subject there are certain facts that I believe everyone should agree. To begin, when someone goes to a chiropractor they are going to because they trust that person with their health. The chiropractor should not take this trust lightly. Just like a medical doctor the chiropractor has a duty to treat the patient within the recognized standard of care. Also, the chiropractor should not hesitate to refer the patient to a medical doctor if the problems go beyond his or her expertise. We have had several cases where a chiropractor failed to recognize obvious and serious neurological injuries which resulted in the patient sustaining severe injuries.
One of the more common injuries that we have handled involves strokes which resulted from chiropractic neck manipulations. Specifically, this injury can occur when the artery to the brain is blocked from a clot or even ruptures as a result of being aggressively stretched or “manipulated” . When the manipulation is too aggressive or extreme the significant wrenching of the head and rotation of the cervical spine can stretch or tear the delicate lining of the artery. As a result a blood clot can from over the inured area of the artery and can later become dislodged. When this occurs the smaller artery that supplies blood to the brain can become blocked leading to catastrophic injuries. Chiropractors will tell you that the danger is extremely remote however if it does occur the results can be life changing. If you decide to undergo this procedure I would recommend you discuss it with your doctor and weigh the benefits versus the risk. Further, make sure your chiropractor goes over the risk of any procedure he wishes to perform. The medical standard of care in Tennessee requires you be informed of any and all risk associated with your medical treatment. This includes chiropractic treatment.
Another interesting component of this type of malpractice and injury is the timing of the symptoms. We have had cases where the stroke happens almost immediately but often several days or even a couple of weeks can pass before the stroke occurs. This is because it may take some time for the blood clot to form and to dislodge. Because the time delay some injured patients do not realize the connection between the chiropractic manipulation and the stroke. Tennessee has a very short statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases so if you feel that you have suffered an injury as a result of chiropractic treatment you should contact an attorney immediately.