Call to close RMIT chiro clinic

A call has been made for the closure of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Chiropractic Paediatric clinic for “teaching inappropriate and potentially dangerous techniques that target pregnant women, babies, infants and children”.

Loretta Marron has campaigned fearlessly and forcefully for evidence-based health care against unsubsantiated claims made in alternative medicine, and particularly unsubtantiated cancer cures. In a report outlining chiropractic practice and assessments of its efficacy, she requests that the clinic be shut down until such time as evidence can be produced that these treatments support the claims made by the course lecturers.

In this endeavour she has been supported by such notable experts as: Prof Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, UK; Prof Ian Frazer, director of the Diamantina Institute, and former Australian of the Year; Prof John Dwyer, Emeritus Professor of Medicine UNSW, and Chair of the Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance; and Dr Simon Singh, noted science communicator who recently won a legal suit brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association; among many others.

Loretta says that universities are meant to contribute to society “through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. It is high time that universities returned to their core principles and dropped pseudoscientific courses which lead to attacks on vaccination and the promotion of expensive, useless and potentially harmful treatments.”

Her report says that the parents of sick children are a particularly vulnerable group, easily exploited by chiropractors. Children are not able to make their own decisions and parents need good information about the benefits and risks associated with the choices they make in their families’ health care.

“With the growth in numbers of chiropractors promoting chiropractic as a substitute for proven treatments and for vaccination, I believe that a re-education campaign should be urgently initiated to provide information to both consumers and chiropractors as to what they can or cannot claim, based on the balance of evidence-based medicine.

“I believe that these teachings are not restricted to RMIT”, she adds, “and would like to request that other institutions offering chiropractic courses, including Murdoch and Macquarie Universities, be investigated as well.”

Loretta has complied a detailed report on chiropractic claims and assessments which:

  • includes expert opinion from high profile and well-regarded Professors of Medicine relating to supposed efficacy of chiropractic;
  • identifies the claims made by lecturers and graduates from RMIT and other chiropractic teaching institutions;
  • identifies the relevant codes of conduct that are breached by graduates;
  • identifies research relating to spinal manipulation on a wide range of health conditions;
  • refers to the General Chiropractic Council (UK) on comments on ‘subluxations’ and evidence-based practices;
  • refers to the HCCC anti-vaccination campaign, which is supported by over 120 chiropractors;
  • refers to a recent US-based court case which limits chiropractic diagnoses to biomechanical conditions of the spine and musculoskeletal system; and
  • recommends that the competency and education standards for chiropractors be reviewed.

To date, RMIT has dismissed the claims. As reported in the Australian Medical Journal: “RMIT dismissed the claims that it was teaching potentially harmful theories and techniques targeting vulnerable patients.

“Asked for details of conditions treated at the clinic and the treatments used, the university said: ‘We do not aim to treat conditions. We look at the biomechanical situation for an individual and make the appropriate gentle adjustments. This can improve the situations in other parts of the patient’s health but RMIT is not claiming a direct cause. So in that sense we do not have a shopping list of conditions that we treat, apart from lower back pain and neck paid and headache.’ ”

This is despite the claim made on the clinic’s page within RMIT’s website that: “There are also many case studies published that report positive outcomes for patients with a range of other conditions and health concerns. Patients who present for treatment of musculoskeletal pain and discomfort often report positive changes in other aspects of their health.” This can be seen as an invitation for potential patients to approach chiropractors for the treatment of non-biomechanical conditions, in line with claims by many chiropractors for treatment of such diverse conditions influenza, constipation, bed-wetting, smoking, sexual dysfunction and depression.