Many people see chiropractors as their primary medical providers. However, chiropractors are not trained to diagnose and treat illness. Despite the title “Doctor of Chiropractic”, chiropractors are not medical doctors.  As medical professionals, they are required to follow the accepted standard of care for their profession and to do no harm.
If a chiropractor crosses the line and provides treatment that is normally provided by a medical doctor, they are held to the same level of care and accepted standards as a doctor would be.
The leading causes of chiropractic malpractice include:
Failure to diagnose
Failure to refer
Disk herniation
Modern chiropractic technique was founded by Daniel David Palmer in the 1890’s. Palmer was a former teacher, beekeeper and grocer who had an interest in magnetic healing and Spiritualism. He started a school and his teachings are now known as “Straight Chiropractic Treatments”. This system of treatment believes that no matter what your ailment with the proper adjustment of the, energy will be released and will flow through your nervous system to cure all your health issues.  
Failure to diagnose –  When patients believe that chiropractors are healing their complaints, serious health issues may go undiagnosed, especially if the chiropractor does not take an adequate medical history. Chiropractors must run all proper diagnostic tests and take a complete medical history before treatment.  
Failure to refer – If a patient has an illness that should be treated by a medical doctor, the chiropractor has a duty to refer the patient for appropriate treatment.
Disk herniation – Spinal manipulation may cause herniated disks and nerve damage, especially when excessive force is used during a chiropractic manipulation. Herniated discs may be quite painful. Symptoms include pain, numbness or tingling in the lower back and possibly in the legs. The pain can be disabling until the injury has a chance to heal. A chiropractic treatment may aggravate an existing back injury and repeated damage can cause permanent spine injury. 
Stroke – A poorly performed or unnecessary cervical adjustment done by a chiropractor may result in a tear or dissection of the vertebral or carotid arteries that lead to the brain. The tear causes a slow bleed which forms a blood clot.  When the blood clot breaks free, it may cut off blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke.   Chiropractor-manipulation strokes can cause permanent brain injury and disability even in young people with no previous history of cardiovascular disease. A stroke caused by a cervical adjustment may occur immediately or it may not occur for days or even two to three weeks after chiropractic treatment. 
It is believed that chiropractic caused strokes are underreported. 
Neck manipulations may not be appropriate for every patient. A chiropractor should take a full medical history and neck manipulations should not be done on patients with a history of cardiovascular or neurological disease. Chiropractors should warn patients about the risk of stroke.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.