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Dynamic Chiropractic – November 15, 1999, Vol. 17, Issue 24

Chiropractic as the Conscience for Rational Health Care

By Chester Wilk, DC
The health care system is sick and needs a major overhauling. It is irresponsibly polarized, improperly utilized and overly expensive. Let's take a look at some examples.

1. A close friend of mine went to the emergency room of a local hospital because of heart palpitations.

They had him undress and sit on a cart, sharing space with a large number of other patients. They put a heart monitor on him and took specimens of his blood and urine. After three hours a doctor approached him, complimented him for having a very normal heart beat, and said that the temporary flutter was nothing serious. My friend was discharged; a week later he got a bill for more than $2,000.

I find it hard to accept that such fees are justified. If you don't have health insurance and are unfortunate enough to end up in a hospital for a couple days, be prepared to pay a bill in the five-figure bracket, or be ready to turn over the title to your home. There is something dreadfully wrong with this scenario.

2. The U.S. Office of Public Health Agency for Health Care Policy and Research formed a 23-member panel that chose 200 leading back experts to read all available world literature dealing with the most effective treatments for low back pain. After researching tens of thousands of medical literatures and selecting only the finest scientifically based material, this panel published low back treatment guidelines which criticized excessive surgery and urged more conservative spinal manipulative care.

Four months later the AMA, which I refer to as the American Misinformation Association, instead of accepting the conclusions of a very extensive and high quality study, retained a medical writer and published its own so-called guidelines. The guidelines misrepresented the treatment options for low back pain by conspicuously excluding any reference to spinal manipulation. The outcome is that if any patients sue their surgeons for not following the government guidelines, the attorneys for the defense can use the fallacious AMA guidelines to neutralize the government guidelines. It may not be intellectually honest, but they are apparently getting away with it.

3. The U.S. Justice Department is suing the cigarette companies for causing lung cancer. How about adding the AMA to the suit? It is well-documented that the AMA, as early as 1964, joined with the tobacco industry to keep the public ignorant of the dangers of smoking by refusing to endorse a message on the package of cigarettes which cautioned people of the dangers of smoking, while simultaneously collecting $18 million from the tobacco industry for a so-called "study" on tobacco.

In 1968, the AMA opposed the television ban on cigarette advertising, while at the same time, 95% of the MDs polled in the Medical Tribune agreed that smoking was harmful to health. As far back as 1948, Boyd Pathology, a highly respected medical textbook, clearly stated that coal tar products caused cancers. The medical community and the AMA have known about the hazards of smoking for 50 years, as have the cigarette companies and the politicians. However, politicians conveniently exempted themselves from lawsuits, so it's the kettle calling the pot black when the government sues the tobacco companies. It's hypocritical. Since everyone is in a litigious mood, we might as well countersue all of the lung cancer plaintiffs for filing frivolous lawsuits, since a warning message has been clearly written on every pack of cigarettes that they smoked the past 30 years. It seems like no one wants to take responsibility for their own conduct, preferring to lay blame elsewhere.

4. CBS cited on the network news that there were 80,000 unnecessary disc surgeries done in one year. That's more than 1,500 unnecessary disc surgeries every week, yet where is the national outcry?

5. A study done at the University of Ottawa for the Canadian government compared medical and chiropractic care for back pain. It found that chiropractic care was markedly superior in safety, effectiveness, cost-efficiency, and patient satisfaction.

6. A comparison study of the results of back ailments at two Chicago area hospitals conducted by a Northwestern University professor and medical physician found that chiropractic patients were being released from the orthopedic ward 7-9 days sooner than those getting medical care.

7. Chiropractic in New Zealand, a royal commission report that took 18 months to complete, involved the commission travelling to Australian, the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S. to assess the most recent developments between chiropractors and other health professionals. The report concluded that chiropractic is a "vital, effective, impressively safe, scientifically based profession ... and should be included in hospitals."

8. A major British government study, using the most scientifically acceptable random controlled clinical trials over a period of 10 years, showed that chiropractic care for low back pain was effective by as much as a 2-to-1 margin of superiority over medical care.

9. The largest HMO in the southeastern United States (AVMED) sent 12 patients diagnosed by its medical staff as needing disc surgery to a chiropractor; all 12 were corrected by the chiropractor without surgery.

10. n Italian government-sponsored survey of 17,142 patients, conducted within 22 medical back pain clinics over a two-year period, showed that chiropractic care reduced hospitalization by 87.6% and work loss by 75.5%. (See Medcine, Monopolies and Malice" for complete documentation.)

In light of the above examples from America and around the world, can anyone explain to me on what basis more than 99% of the hospitals in America shut out chiropractic services? Can anyone justify by what bizarre standard this can be considered ethical, proper or acceptable in health care? Does this make any sense at all? If not, can we allow this outrageous polarization to continue without candidly speaking out?

If the U.S. Justice Department has ever had cause to enter in a lawsuit against organized medicine based on fraud by omission, it's now. Then why doesn't it act? Aside from the politicians who may be in the back pocket of organized medicine, I believe many of them are simply afraid to encourage the Justice Department to take action because they don't want to be made to appear foolish in an area where they lack expertise. Medical doctors speak a mysterious and frightening medical jargon which intimidates legislators from challenging the accuracy or good judgment of the medical establishment. Hence, they back off and give the medics free run to do as they wish, which may not always be honest or in the best interest of the public. This is why political medicine has gotten away with so many illegal things through the years and has viewed itself as a quasi-government, immune to challenge or criticism.

The federal court was not fooled or intimidated in the Wilk et al. v AMA et al. lawsuit when it said that the AMA was: "not objectively reasonable ... could not be trusted beyond its next confrontation ... its evidence was incredible and unworthy of belief ... it is guilty of systematic long term wrongdoing ... never acknowledged the lawlessness of its past conduct."

The court was charitable with its words. We could rephrase the court's conclusion more candidly and say that the AMA's conduct was that of a stupid, untrustworthy, lying, chronic unrepenting lawbreaker. It is sad to think that this has been the character of a very powerful and influential force in American health care, with its prejudices and barriers to rational health care.

Chiropractic has a chance to become the nation's conscience for closer cooperation and rational utilization of all health care disciplines. It should be obvious by now that objectivity won't come from the AMA or the pharmaceutical industry. Chiropractors are trained to communicate the principles of health care from a natural perspective without drugs. We can provide the public another option, more balanced kind of health care. The medics don't have an exclusive on health care matters anymore. We need an army of well-prepared chiropractors willing to approach the legislators and tell it like it is, and be willing to support it with highly credible facts.

This approach is not for the timid at heart, but there should be enough principled chiropractors out there willing to stand up and fight for the truth. Prepare yourself with the facts and then tell your legislators that they'll not stand alone; that they will have you and solid facts on their side; and that truth must ultimately prevail. Who knows, maybe Congress and/or the U.S. Justice Department may eventually see the light and take action.

Look at the above facts. I challenge you to ask yourself if what is happening in health care today isn't a national disgrace. Do we owe it to our profession to set the record straight for the millions of patients who could use this valuable care but haven't tried it because of ignorance and misinformation? I believe we do, because when we have been given the ability it becomes a responsibility! There is no better time than now to stand up and fight for the truth. Contact the media and legislators and give them the facts. My book Medicine, Monopolies and Malice provides the documentation for all of this information. You may wish to give your legislators or local talk show hosts a copy. They may interview you. We have a powerful message begging to be told, and if we don't tell it, it's the same as if it never happened. Let's make it happen before it's too late.

Click here for previous articles by Chester Wilk, DC.

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