Like the Halstead case, this complaint (which can be read in its entirety at www.chiroweb.com/unclepaul,) alleges a system of educating doctors to perform illegal acts in the process of running a chiropractic practice. And also like the Halstead case, the complaint subjects those doctors involved (many of whom are new graduates) to potential investigation by their state chiropractic licensing board, local authorities, and possibly even federal investigators.
If there is any good news in this situation, it is that, unlike the Halstead case, no arrests have been made thus far, and no one is facing a federal judge. But that doesn't mean it can't or won't happen.
The lessons expressed by Dr. Filcheck, one of the DCs convicted in the Halstead case, in his recent interview with DC (and mentioned in my last report of findings), cannot be overstated.1,2 These lessons apply to any DC practicing in a clinic and working for someone who has instructed them to do things they believe to be inappropriate:
1. You Are the Doctor - Even as an associate or employee, you are the one responsible. Your responsibility to uphold the ethical and legal standards of chiropractic practice is always with you. This responsibility cannot be overridden or assigned to another practitioner or entity - not even your employer.
2. Hire an Attorney First - If the practice you work at is doing things you are unsure of, spend a few hundred dollars to get some advice from an attorney familiar with chiropractic regulations. If you believe you have been knowingly or unknowingly participating in illegal activity, seek the advise of an attorney immediately. Consider that Dr. Miller, who filed the complaint against the UnclePaul corporation, sought legal council immediately upon resigning from his position after only three months with the company.
3. Investigations Are Long, and Will Include Many Players - In the Halstead case, the doctors involved were investigated from 1997 until their indictment in 2001. By the time you know you are under investigation, it is probably too late. Like the Halstead case, it was a doctor who ultimately filed the complaint against UnclePaul.
4. Get Out - Dr. Bill Filcheck's advice deserves to be repeated:
"I would say that if you had an inkling for anything that you didn't think was on the up and up, or any testing getting done or not, which you feel wasn't being done for a reason, just bring it up and if it's not taken care of, get out."
Getting out shows a potential jury that you recognized something was wrong and made a conscious effort to stop participating. The hardest question you will ever answer is, "If you knew it was wrong, why didn't you leave?"
The complaint against the UnclePaul corporation is very recent; in fact, it has yet to be investigated. It may be that none of the violations listed in the 18-page complaint is true. It may also be that the numerous witnesses, video, DVD and instruction manuals will not support the allegations made in the complaint.
But one can be certain that a complaint which encompasses almost 100 clinics in up to 20 states will be thoroughly investigated by the respective chiropractic state licensing boards and other agencies. This is a high-profile case that will be making news for months, if not years.
If you believe anything in this article applies to you, read Dr. Filcheck's interview. Then take the appropriate action while the decision is yours to make.
It may be a hard decision, but you will be glad you made it.
- A chiropractic cautionary tale: an exclusive interview with William Filcheck, DC; reprieve for Ron Halstead. Dynamic Chiropractic, Sept. 1, 2004. www.chiroweb.com/archives/22/18/08.html.
- Thank you, Dr. Filcheck. Dynamic Chiropractic, Sept. 13, 2004. www.chiroweb.com/arcvhies/22/19/23.html.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.