VOCA Victims of Chiropractic Abuse
Stroke risks prompt hearing
By SUSAN HAIGH Associated Press Writer
Publication: The Day
Published 01/04/2010 12:00 AM
Chiropractors may be required to warn patients

Hartford - It took 16 years of living with a feeding tube, but Brittmarie Harwe finally got to taste the meal she had been yearning for: baked cod.

That dinner last spring marked a personal milestone, the first solid food the Connecticut mother had eaten since suffering a stroke at age 26 after a visit to a chiropractor for a sore neck and shoulder.

This week, 43-year-old Harwe plans to experience another landmark moment in her life when the Connecticut State Board of Chiropractic Examiners takes up the contentious question of whether patients should be warned about a possible risk of stroke from neck manipulation by a chiropractor.

"We've finally gotten to this point. It's taken so long, which is amazing to me," said Harwe, who helped create the Connecticut-based Chiropractic Stroke Awareness Group, working with other stroke victims who contend their strokes were caused by chiropractic manipulations.

"If the people have a chance, given the information, they can avoid death or years of disability. It's that simple," said Harwe. Chiropractors have successfully fought back such legislative efforts, claiming their profession has been unfairly singled out and discounting the alleged link between stroke and neck manipulation. Some are expected to testify at this week's two-day hearing against requiring chiropractors to automatically inform patients about a stroke risk from joint mobilization, manipulation or adjustment of the spine.

"Limiting informed consent to one profession, one procedure, does not leave (patients) fully informed," said Matthew N. Pagano, spokesman for the Connecticut Chiropractic Association. "We believe that true informed consent happens best in the form of a discussion between a doctor and a patient."

Pagano, who said he regularly discusses potential risks and benefits of chiropractic treatments with his patients, maintains that recent research does not support the claim that chiropractic adjustment causes stroke - an argument that patient advocates reject.

"There exists this false association from the public conscience between stroke and neck manipulation, and the degree to which a board ruling addresses that remains to be seen," Pagano said.

The little-known, seven-member State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, which includes four chiropractors, is scheduled to hold its hearing Tuesday and Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building. It is expected to eventually decide whether to issue a declaratory ruling that would require chiropractors across the state to warn patients about stroke risk.

Both chiropractors and patient advocates across the country are watching the Connecticut case carefully. If a declaratory ruling is issued, it is believed that it would be the first in the nation.

"I think we all see this as sort of the bellwether for the nation. Then it will spread to other places," said Jann Bellamy, who heads up a Florida-based patients' rights group called the Campaign for Science-Based Healthcare.

Bellamy plans to testify at the hearing. She has also organized a state Capitol news conference on Monday, where Harwe and other advocates and concerned patients from the U.S. and Canada will appear.

Meanwhile, representatives from the Virginia-based International Chiropractors Association, considered the world's oldest international chiropractic professional organization, is scheduled to testify at the board hearing.

State lawmakers in Connecticut have been hesitant to pass a law mandating chiropractors inform their patients of stroke risk. State Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, co-chairman of the Public Health Committee, said he questions whether it's appropriate for the General Assembly to step into the middle of this battle and decide whether there is a specific risk that patients should be warned about.

"There are risks throughout all medical procedures," Harris said.

He said it makes more sense for a professional regulatory body like the state board to decide whether informed consent should be mandated.

Harwe, who also wants chiropractors to provide patients with information about stroke symptoms after receiving a manipulation, is skeptical about whether the board will take any action. She said she is frustrated by years of battling with the chiropractors.

"They're afraid this will snowball," said Harwe, who still has trouble with her balance and struggles to speak because of a paralyzed vocal cord. "Well, it's only the interest of patient safety and they're health care providers. I don't understand what their problem is."

Connecticut News
March 8, 2011
Three Members of Chiropractic Board Violated Law
June 10, 2010
Connecticut chiropractors sued over neck manipulations
April 6, 2010
No harm in warning about risk
March 19, 2010
Board rejects warning on chiropractic risks
March 18, 2010
On Stroke Risks, Chiropractors Manipulate Us
March 17, 2010
Chiropractors Prevail in Battle Over Informed Consent
February 11, 2010
Chiropractic Conflict Continues in Connecticut
February 10, 2010
Patients Need To Know Chiropractic Risks
January 6, 2010
Editorial Cartoon
January 6, 2010
Advocates seeking state law requiring a warning prior to neck manipulation
January 5, 2010
Chiropractors' Argument Falls On Deaf Ears
January 5, 2010
Battle brews over safety of neck manipulation
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Chiropractic Stroke Risk
January 4, 2010
Stroke risks prompt hearing
January 2, 2010
Woodbridge woman fights for warning label
December 29, 2009
Chiropractic Patients Should Know Risks
November 24, 2009
Young Mom Dies After a Chiropractic Adjustment
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March 3, 2008
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