PRESIDING CHAIRMAN: Senator McDonald
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
SENATORS: Caligiuri, Handley, Kissel, Roraback
REPRESENTATIVES: Adinolfi, Aman, Bye, Fox, Geragosian, Giegler,
Godfrey, Gonzalez, Green, Hamm, Hamzy, Hurlburt, Klarides,
Labriola, McMahon, O'Brien, O'Neill, Olson, Powers, Rowe, Serra,
Stone, Taborsak, Walker, Wright
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Janet Levy, followed by Merit Lajoie.
JANET LEVY: Good afternoon, Senator McDonald, Representative
Lawlor, distinguished Members of the Judiciary Committee. My
name is Janet Levy, and I'm here to support Senate Bill 483,
which is AN ACT PROMOTING PATIENT SAFETY BY EXTENDING THE
Five years ago, I went to a chiropractor because I had gotten a
stiff neck from sleeping on a new pillow. The chiropractor did
what he told me was a completely safe adjustment on my neck.
The next day, I had gotten this terrible headache, got so dizzy
and weak, I was unable to move and began vomiting. This lasted
for about an hour, and then, all of a sudden, I got better, and
it was just a weakness.
The next day, the chiropractor had to--
--mini stroke that precedes a major one. The chiropractor kept
saying, no, you're fine. You just had a reaction to the
adjustment. Many people have this kind of reaction to an
You'll be fine in just a week. Trust me. Trust me. I'm a doctor.
I know. I then asked him if I should go to a hospital, maybe get
He said, look. Why would you want to do that? I'm a doctor. If I
thought there was something wrong, then I would tell you. You'll
be fine. Needless to say, the next day, I was being rushed to
I had a major stroke, emergency brain surgery.
After six weeks in the hospital, two years of expensive care and
therapy, almost seven hours a day for two years, I was able to
get my life back, as you see today.
But I found out what happened to me was not an isolated
incident. There appeared to be tons of information, articles,
and studies on the Internet directly relating the incidence of
stroke to chiropractic manipulation.
I found out that there are also hundreds of young victims who
are suffering as a direct result of this chiropractic
adjustment. And I never knew that a chiropractic adjustment
could ever cause a stroke or even have any risks at all.
If his educational information was available at the time, I
could have found out that he was not a medical doctor, but
rather he was a doctorate of chiropractic.
I would have gone to a hospital. I would have sought medical
care, which probably would have saved my life, so that I
wouldn't have to go through two years of literal hell.
Today, on the DPH's website, there is a category that says, you
can get information that says all licensed physicians. Well, the
State of Connecticut has given the chiropractors the right to
call themselves licensed physicians in Connecticut.
They should be on this physician's profile. We need to find out
their malpractice information, their education, know that they
didn't have any training in hospitals.
You don't know this information, and it's very, a lot of people
are getting hurt, and uninformed, needless, injured victims are
popping up all the time, and it's, something has to be done.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, that you very much, Ms. Levy, for coming
and testifying. It's, you know, we hear a lot of agency heads
and association members, but it's extraordinarily important for
us to have testimony from the people in the real world, I guess,
who are involved in, frankly, advocating on important
legislation. I very much appreciate you taking the time to come
and testify today.
JANET LEVY: Thank you. You're welcome.
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Britt Harwe, and I still don't see Judge
Jones. So Michelle Lettieri, is Michelle Lettieri here? You'll
be next, and then is Commissioner Danaher here? There he is.
You'll be after that.
BRITTMARIE HARWE: Good afternoon, Senator McDonald,
Representative Lawlor and distinguished Members of the Judiciary
Committee. My name is Brittmarie Harwe, from Wethersfield.
I am the Co-Founder of the Chiropractic Stroke Awareness Group,
which consists of hundreds of young people, mostly between the
ages of 25 to 45, who have been injured by chiropractic
I'm testifying in support today of Senate Bill 483, AN ACT ON
PROMOTING PATIENT SAFETY AND ACCESS TO PROVIDER INFORMATION.
On April 18, 1993, I was just 26 years old, the day before my
daughter turned 2. I went to a chiropractor because of a sore
shoulder and neck.
I had a stroke immediately following the chiropractic cervical
adjustment. The chiropractor called 911 and reported his patient
was having a reaction.
He didn't mention he had just performed a neck adjustment, nor
did he mention that I became immediately so dizzy I was unable
to sit or stand without his assistance.
I couldn't speak. I was unable to focus my eyes. I was taken by
ambulance to the hospital, and tests revealed that one of my
vertebral arteries was crushed during the adjustment.
I was left with many neurological disabilities, including
left-side weakness, paralyzed vocal chord, and the worst of all,
I lost the ability to swallow.
Since I can't swallow, I have a feeding tube that was surgically
placed in my stomach. For the past 14 years, I haven't been able
to eat anything except liquid nutrition.
This stroke has forever changed my life. Later, I learned from
my attorney, this chiropractor had not only hurt me, but had a
previous large malpractice settlement.
A large settlement usually involves severe injury or death. Had
this information been available, it would have raised red flags,
and I might not have gone to him for treatment.
Chiropractic treatment is always advertised as safe and natural.
No risk is ever mentioned. As a matter of fact, I had asked the
chiropractor before doing treatment if there were any risks.
I will never forget his response. He said some people have
reactions. The next time I heard the word reaction was when he
called 911. He called it a reaction, but it was a stroke, and I
Since such severe injury is a possibility with chiropractic
adjustments, malpractice and other pertinent information about
chiropractors should be made available.
Many of the victims I have spoken with had an artery torn during
the neck adjustment. The symptoms of stroke happened right away,
but there can be a delay of days or weeks before a major stroke
Because of this delay, the cause is not related back to the
original injury that caused the original cause of the tear. So
malpractice is never filed, and chiropractor's medical
malpractice liability insurance never increases.
So it is not a good indication of the safety of chiropractic
neck adjustments. I feel chiropractors, above all, should be
included in this law because Connecticut state law requires all
licensed physicians to be included in this physician's profile.
By the statute, chiropractors are called licensed physicians.
And since they have the privilege of using the title doctor,
this information should be available.
The State of Florida has provided their residents with a similar
system called the practitioner profile since 1997. I feel
strongly the residents of Connecticut deserve the same benefits
other states already provide their citizens.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my concerns,
and I hope you will support this bill.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, thank you very much, and, obviously, it's
more than just concerns. You have a very personally compelling
story, and I appreciate you sharing it with Members of the
Let me profess my ignorance here and ask you a question. When
there's a neck because, frankly, I've never gone to a
When there's a neck adjustment, and, as you indicated, there
could be a tear of an artery or some type of early indicators
that something went wrong, do you have any way of knowing
whether early intervention at that point in time might have
prevented the stroke from actually taking place?
BRITTMARIE HARWE: [inaudible] stroke information that's out now
there's so much about stroke awareness, it is critical to get
emergency medical treatment, especially within the first couple
There are new drugs out there that they can treat you with, clot
busting drugs, if given in a right amount of time, can prevent
some of the damage. So I don't know.
I was rushed to the hospital, but they had no idea why I was
there. He didn't say he had done a neck adjustment or any of the
symptoms of stroke he had witnessed.
I was 26 years old, and the hospital had no idea why I was
there. MRI and MRA, which finally showed the damage, and the
neurologist explained how it happened.
It didn't happen for like five or six days. By then it was too
late. The damage was done. So it's very important for any
stroke-like symptoms, to get emergency treatment.
SEN. MCDONALD: I just wanted to get a little bit more
information from you about the causation issue that you said
would preclude an action for malpractice against the
chiropractor in a similar circumstance. What is it about the
delay that would prevent a claim from being filed?
BRITTMARIE HARWE: Well, what happens, in my case, my artery was
crushed during the adjustment, so the stroke happened
immediately. Many times, your vertebral arteries run along
inside your spine.
When the adjustment is done, an artery is torn. Every few layers
in the artery, the tear may not go through all of them. Your
body tries to heal itself.
A clot forms. Sometimes, that clot, you heal yourself. You'll
never know that you had anything. A chiropractor wouldn't know.
But if that clot forms, and it's not done healing, it could be
hours, days, even a week later.
Movement, sudden movement can cause the clot to go into your
brain, causing a stroke. So because of the delay, they don't
know when the tear happened.
Well, if you go back and say when did you first start feeling
these symptoms of stroke? Right after the adjustment.
Another misnomer chiropractors complain the symptoms of a torn
artery are headache and neck pain. These are common symptoms
people go to chiropractors for.
Well, if the, and many chiropractors will tell you, spokesmen of
the ACA, saying torn arteries are very difficult to diagnose
because the symptoms can be so similar to other symptoms of
Well, if a person is coming to them with headache and neck pain,
and they suspect a possible tear, doing an adjustment will just
make the tear worse, and the stroke can happen right away,
again, or it can, depending on the size of the tear.
And since it can be a few hours or like the next day when the
stroke occurs, it's hard to prove causation, so no claims get
filed. Their malpractice doesn't increase.
But I've heard the same story from hundreds of people, even
using the same words, reaction, don't worry. I, unfortunately,
couldn't speak or talk, but many people who have had just the
tear right after the adjustment have been dizzy, have been
They've been told it's just a reaction. Oh, it's your body
releasing toxins. Don't worry about it. Some people wait, and
then, unfortunately, it's too late to get any kind of medicine
when they do have the major stroke.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, thank you very much. Representative Fox.
REP. FOX: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your
testimony this afternoon. I don't know if you mentioned this in
your initial statement. Can you tell us what was the initial
reason that you went to go see a chiropractor?
BRITTMARIE HARWE: I had a sore shoulder. I worked in an
insurance downtown on the phone a lot, on the computer. One
morning I woke up. It was very sore. It hurt to move.
I went to work that day, and I had called my regular doctor.
They couldn't see me for a week. I had tried hot packs, aspirin,
whatever. The next day, it was still there.
Finally, a friend at work said, you know, I go to this
chiropractor. Why don't you try and go? And they got me in that
day. So I went one day, and then I had a follow-up appointment.
That's when my stroke happened.
REP. FOX: Now when you met with the doctor, the chiropractor,
did they take any kind of a history of you? Okay.
BRITTMARIE HARWE: Yes. He asked, you know, about why I'm here,
what brought me there, family history. I did ask him what could
happen? And he mentioned you could have a reaction.
I guess I was very naive at 26. I didn't understand. He was very
blasť about the way he said you can have a reaction. So I took
it to mean an allergic reaction.
I had no idea they classify stroke as a reaction. Because if I
heard the word stroke, that's something you really don't want to
do. And I went to a chiropractor for a simple reason.
Many people go to chiropractors for very benign, simple reasons.
There are other treatments that have no risk, but if you do want
to continue with the chiropractic treatment, that's fine. You
should just be told up front.
But also that is why to have all of this information available
on a profile. They're called physicians. They're called doctor.
The way it's advertised is always safe and natural. So you have
no idea that there's risk, and when they say reaction, reaction.
If you can see information up there that there's malpractice
claims sometimes, that might get you to question, well, if
there's no risk, why are there these claims? I know there can be
for all sorts of reasons, but it could be a red flag.
REP. FOX: Well, I mean, I've never been to a chiropractor myself
either. I have, I do know people who have gone. Some of them do
find some relief by going to a chiropractor.
BRITTMARIE HARWE: Oh, absolutely, from lower back pain. I've
heard from a lot of people that have had benefit from that. And
I don't say, you know, I'm not anti-chiropractic. I just want
the information out there and available to the public.
REP. FOX: Well, I was going to say there's also some though, I
know, who've gone who actually had some serious back problems,
whether it's a herniated disc, something that was really wrong
that would have been detected on an MRI, if that had been
And what happens is the chiropractic treatment can really make
things worse, when you're in that kind of situation, so, you
BRITTMARIE HARWE: Absolutely. I mean, there's good and bad to
all benefits, but what I'm saying is make this information
available to the public.
REP. FOX: Okay. Well, thank you, again.
BRITTMARIE HARWE: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Any further questions? If not, thank you very
BRITTMARIE HARWE: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Jean Rexford, followed by Matthew Levy.
JEAN REXFORD: Good evening, Senator McDonald and Representative Lawlor and Committee Members. I will be very brief. I, too, am here tonight in support of Senate Bill 483, AN ACT PROMOTING PATIENT SAFETY AND ACCESS TO PROVIDER INFORMATION BY EXTENDING THE STATE PHYSICIAN PROFILE TO CERTAIN OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS.
There is an increase in the numbers of healthcare consumers seeking alternatives to our current delivery system. High co pays, health savings accounts and high deductibles, medical savings accounts are just a few of the reasons that individuals are looking at alternatives to the traditional medical establishment.
Many patients go to the DPH website seeking information, and, yet, it is incomplete. We need to include all healthcare providers on that website.
There have been important omissions, such as information on chiropractors. Patients might think that because there is no information that there are no safety issues and no malpractice claims against the provider.
Passing this bill, which would include these healthcare providers, becomes more critical as these alternative healthcare providers push to increase their scope and complexity of the services they want to provide for patients.
Healthcare providers who carry medical liability insurance should have the same standardized reporting requirements, thereby providing the public with critical information that would improve patient safety and quality in Connecticut.
SEN. MCDONALD: Well, thanks for your testimony. I've been here for, I think, almost every speaker. I haven't actually speak against this proposal yet.
JEAN REXFORD: It's good news.
SEN. MCDONALD: Have you heard whether anybody is [Gap in testimony. Changing from Tape 3B to Tape 4A.]
JEAN REXFORD: --sounds like good reasonable, sane bill.
SEN. MCDONALD: We'll have one this year. Are there any questions? Thanks very much.
JEAN REXFORD: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Next is Matthew Levy. Good afternoon, Sir.
MATTHEW LEVY: Good afternoon.
SEN. MCDONALD: Can you pull the microphone toward you? Thank you.
MATTHEW LEVY: Good afternoon, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and distinguished Members of the Judiciary Committee. My name is Matthew Levy, and I am testifying in support of Senate Bill 483, which is an act promoting patient safety and the availability of information.
I came up here today to testify in support of this bill because of the importance of this issue.
In 2002, my mother was severely injured by chiropractic manipulation. She went a chiropractor for a simple shoulder pain, and we almost lost her forever.
The chiropractor had torn an artery in her neck, which resulted in her having a stroke. I will never forget the day when I was in the hospital with my dad and my brother and we had to say goodbye to my mom as she wheeled away into surgery.
I was taken home by my mom's best friend. On the way, I asked Lori if my mom was going to be all right. When she started to cry, it hit me that I may never see my mom alive again. I will never forget that day.
For the past three and a half years, I have witnessed the emotional turmoil that this issue has caused so many other people, all because of a simple chiropractic adjustment. All these stories that I've personally read said the same thing.
They had gone to a chiropractor for a simple ailment that could have probably diminished with time, but instead they thought they would try chiropractic because they have read all their ads saying that they were safe and that they could help with all sorts of pains and afflictions.
They had no idea that chiropractic could forever change their lives by potentially damaging them or even killing them.
A simple chiropractic adjustment has killed people, and I have personally read their stories and have seen some of the death certificates attributing their unnecessary deaths to a chiropractic manipulation.
This bill is so important because of the affect computers had on the modern world. As a 16-year-old, I have grown up with the Internet being the most valuable resource for information, and most everyone of all ages is shifting sure to this technology.
I know that if my generation has a question about anything, they go straight to the Internet to find the answers, and they should be provided there.
The way the physician's profile is set up now is that it claims to include all licensed physicians. Most people will automatically assume that chiropractors are included in this list since they are considered physicians by the State of Connecticut.
When they don't show up on the list is the immediate assumption that chiropractors have no need to be on the list and that they are safe. I have learned that this is not the truth.
I have personally talked to many victims who were left paralyzed by a chiropractic adjustment. The possibility of injury needs to be made public.
And I believe that one of the first and most significant steps would be to include the profession on the Department of Public Health's website of physicians profile.
We all have a right to know the kind of information regarding any and all healthcare providers. We just need to be provided the access to it, especially when there's a major risk.
Before three and a half years ago, I did not know that to become a chiropractor, you only needed 2.0 to a 2.5 grade point average, nor did I know that chiropractors have no medical training in a hospital, nor did I know that chiropractors can seriously injure anyone.
This information should be provided, as it would in the physicians profile under this bill.
The greater importance of the Internet today makes this bill vital, as there is a great need for all information to be available online. People will be able to use this information to make their own educate decisions on what risks are too much and then hopefully be able to avoid any unnecessary harm.
In a society where a coffee cup says, caution, hot, may cause burns, I cannot see any plausible objection to this bill. Please support Senate Bill 483. Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thanks, Matt. That last point was a great one. You know, it is so true. I mean, the people who are seeking out chiropractors have very few tools at their disposal to understand what's at stake and, frankly, what the potential risks are.
And I just want to congratulate you on your eloquence. You're 16?
MATTHEW LEVY: Yeah.
SEN. MCDONALD: Very impressive.
MATTHEW LEVY: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: And very personal, and I appreciate you sharing it with us. How is your mother doing?
MATTHEW LEVY: She's fine.
SEN. MCDONALD: Okay.
MATTHEW LEVY: She's gotten better with a lot of work.
SEN. MCDONALD: With a lot of, and you have been here most of the day and heard a lot of the testimony.
MATTHEW LEVY: Yes.
SEN. MCDONALD: Did your mom have a lot of physical therapy as well?
MATTHEW LEVY: Oh, yeah. A couple years.
SEN. MCDONALD: Right. And your point about the Internet, you know, one of the people who testified indicated that her problems with a chiropractor date back 14 years.
And if my math is correct, it's actually right around the time that the Internet was getting rolled out, so it may not have helped as much back then.
MATTHEW LEVY: But in the future.
SEN. MCDONALD: But you're absolutely right. And you wouldn't have any reason to know this, I suspect, but we are, on a regular basis, considering legislation that requires government to put more information on the Internet on a whole variety of subjects, because you're right, it's where people go for their main sources of information now.
And if it's not here, it leads people into a false sense of complete knowledge, and that's not true. So I want to thank you for coming today and for testifying before the Committee.
MATTHEW LEVY: Than you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Are there any questions from Members of the Committee? Representative McMahon.
REP. MCMAHON: Just wondering, where do you go to school?
MATTHEW LEVY: Hamden Hall.
REP. MCMAHON: Hamden Hall. I would love to talk to your teachers and tell them what a great job you did and what an example, what a great example you were for yourself, and I hope your fellow classmates care about this.
MATTHEW LEVY: Thank you.
SEN. MCDONALD: Thank you. Thanks for your testimony.