Dealing with Consumer Reports, Orthopractors, and "20/20"
By Chester Wilk, DC
The overwhelming majority of traditional chiropractors are outraged and frustrated by the recent sensationalism and misrepresentation of chiropractic. There comes a time to speak out and "tell it like it is." This is why I suggest that every chiropractor reading this column clip it out, copy it, and give it to all of their patients and have their patients pass it on to others.
Meanwhile, send this column to your local media and press, legislators, schools, lawyers, and anyone else that should know the true facts. What is happening is a disgrace and must be exposed. Truth is our greatest weapon and so let's use it.
For the sake of brevity I will outline the information and support it with bibliographic references.
Their report on chiropractic was grossly faulty for numerous reasons:
- It never mentioned and it completely ignored the state of Utah's workers' compensation study showing the 1,000 percent superiority of chiropractic in cost effectiveness over medical cases.1
- It ignored mentioning the California or Oregon workers' compensation studies showing a 2-1 chiropractic superiority in time loss from work and compensation costs.2
- It totally ignored a major university-based medical research center utilizing chiropractic and medicine which found that a controlled test group of 171 medically unresponsive patients for seven years got 87 percent results within three weeks under chiropractic care and how the patients remained pain free on re-evaluation one year later.3
- It ignored the study of a prominent Chicago medical orthopedist who compared the results of a hospital orthopedic ward using chiropractic care over another hospital that did not use chiropractic care, and how the hospital using chiropractic care was sending patients home well 7-9 days sooner.4
- It ignored the findings of one of America's largest HMOs which showed how chiropractic care eliminated the need for disc surgery in 12 out of 12 patients who were previously diagnosed by a medical team as needing disc surgery, thereby saving the HMO hundreds of thousands of dollars and potential medical complications, including death.5
- It totally ignored the British government's study which found that in some areas of health care, chiropractic enjoys a 2-1 superiority over medicine, based on carefully conducted scientifically acceptable controlled studies using the Oswestry scale of pain measurement.6
- It did not mention the Italian government's study on over 17,000 patients treated within 22 medical centers while under close scrutiny of PhDs within major universities finding that chiropractic care reduced hospitalization by 87.6 percent and work loss by 75.6 percent.7
- It totally ignored a 20 month extensive New Zealand government study which covered the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand, which insisted, among many things, that chiropractic's training in spinal manipulation was totally superior to that of physical therapists and the so-called "weekend" or "vacation" courses on spinal manipulation given for medical doctors.8
Somehow all of these highly credible and respectable studies were ignored or overlooked by Consumer Reports, while it placed too much emphasis on an anti-scientific, radical group called "orthopractors" (see below).
Many of us have placed some credibility on the findings of Consumer Reports when considering purchasing various products. When an organization such as Consumer Reports conducts such shabby and irresponsible evaluation of chiropractic it will lose the respect and trust of all informed people. Consumer Reports has abused a public trust and deserves to be exposed and then ignored in the future as a responsible source for information.
This is a highly aggressive, insignificantly small group which holds itself out as the "scientific" group of spinal manipulators. But here are the facts:
- Any physical therapist (with inferior training in spinal manipulation) may join this group together with medical and chiropractic doctors without having to submit to any kind of test of qualifications, examination or certification to prove themselves proficient. This will lower the quality of good spinal manipulation with less qualified personnel since MDs and physical therapists were already established in a government study as having inferior training to chiropractors.
- "Orthopractors" are not officially recognized in any state as a bona fide profession.
- The president of the orthopractors has openly admitted before a government commission to using "deliberate and premeditated lies and fraud" in his attacks against chiropractic: not very good credentials.
- Some board members of the orthopractors have chosen to remain anonymous. Responsible and credible organizations are generally open and above board, and their board members are proud to lend their names. How much faith can you put into an organization where its board members prefer to remain secret or underground?
- Orthopractors conduct themselves in an anti-scientific manner because they reject objective evaluations of credible studies, lack the interest or curiosity of an investigative mind, condemn the need for honest research and evaluation, while blindly condemning that of which they demonstrate ignorance. A scientific posture demands an open and investigative mind, objectivity, insatiable curiosity, and honesty. This is grossly lacking with the orthopractors.
In summary, orthopractic is a radical, anti-scientific group that will bastardize the quality of spinal manipulation. Reader be forewarned!
Shows like "20/20" parade themselves as "consumer oriented" are really producer oriented, with the producer doing what he or she must do to keep their job. Producers of television shows live and die by the ratings. This is what appears to have happened with the "20/20" show when it covered the subject of chiropractic.
- "20/20" relied very heavily on orthopractor Katz. He became the chief medical spokesman of the "20/20" show which was a grossly inappropriate choice.
- "20/20" totally ignored the input of traditional chiropractic's 23,000-member organization.
- "20/20" grossly misquoted chiropractors as "treating diseases" which is incorrect. Any reasonable investigation would have revealed that chiropractors merely treat patients for the ailments.
- Dwelling on some exceptional cases and making them appear as though they were commonplace is another example of sensationalism that has no place with responsible journalism.
In summary, the "20/20" should conduct itself more responsibly and objectively and needs to be exposed for its National Enquirer type of tactics of abusive reporting. Perhaps the Federal Trade Commission (FCC) should demand more honesty in reporting since such shows can do more public disservice than service in reporting the facts.
Chester Wilk, DC
- Jarvis K, Phillips R, Morris E. Workers' Compensation Fund of Utah, 1991.
- Martin R, Wold R. California Workers' Compensation Records, 1972.
- Cassidy D, Willis K. University of Saskatchewan study, 1985.
- Freitag P. U.S. Federal Court Testimony, May 1987.
- Davis H. AV MED Health Maintenance Organization, Miami, FL, 1982.
- Mead TW. British Medical Research Council, 1990.
- Splendori F. "Chiropractic Therapeutic Effectiveness -- Social Importance, Incidence on Absence from Work and Hospitalization," Italy, 1988.
- Chiropractic in New Zealand, Report of the Commission of Inquiry, 1979.
for previous articles by Chester Wilk, DC.