Statement on Drugs in the Profession of Chiropractic
by Christopher Kent, D.C., J.D.
Sherman College Director of Evidence-Informed Curriculum and Practice
There is general agreement throughout the chiropractic profession that we are a drugless profession. The Association of Chiropractic Colleges Paradigm, adopted by most major chiropractic organizations, states emphatically: “Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery.” (1)
Sherman College of Chiropractic teaches that chiropractic practice includes the detection, analysis, and correction of vertebral subluxations and that the practice of chiropractic does not include the use of prescription or non-prescription drugs.
Drugs should not be included in the scope of chiropractic for the following reasons:
- It would be contrary to the historic and widely accepted identity of the profession to add drug treatment to our scope of practice
- We know of no accredited chiropractic colleges that provide instruction on the use of prescription drugs, including injections of homeopathic medications, hormones, prolotherapy agents, etc. in their curriculum. A few have offered postgraduate courses in injectable nutrients (as authorized in Oklahoma), local anesthetics (as authorized in Oregon), and a 90-hour course in New Mexico. One offers a graduate program.
- To our knowledge, no accredited chiropractic college clinic employs injectable homeopathic remedies, injectable nutrients, and other legend drugs in the care of outpatients in their student clinics. Furthermore, students have no hospital rotations and practical training in dealing with the safe and effective use of drugs, and the management of anaphylactic reactions and other adverse effects.
- Some have proposed a “tiering” of the profession. Legislation could empower state boards to either allow any licensed chiropractor to practice in these potentially dangerous areas with little or no training or require “certification” that is not comparable to the thousands of hours of residency required of medical and osteopathic physicians. Furthermore, this would lead to two (or more) classes of chiropractors, causing confusion and potential deception of the public.
- Homeopathic medicine is a system of medicine in its own right. Only three states separately license homeopathic physicians (Arizona, Connecticut, and Nevada). They require that an applicant hold a medical degree, complete residency training, and have specialty training in homeopathy. All homeopathic injectables and some oral homeopathic products are prescription drugs. To have marginally trained DCs practicing an entirely different system of medicine is not in the best interests of the profession or the patient community.
- Such an expansion in the scope of chiropractic practice could result in an increase in professional liability insurance premiums, due to increased risk to the public.
- The public perception of the profession would suffer, as doctors of chiropractic could become perceived as third-rate medical practitioners, sometimes using very questionable drugs and medicines.
- Chiropractors would become part of the iatrogenic drug problem. Chiropractic’s impressive safety record could become a thing of the past.
- There is no evidence that drugs are useful in locating, analyzing, and correcting vertebral subluxations.
- The best interests of the public are served by limiting the use of drugs to fully qualified physicians trained in their use.
- Association of Chiropractic Colleges Paradigm. www.chirocolleges.org/paradigm_scope_practice.html