TMA: No Chiropractic Neurology

A state chiropractic board proposal to recognize a specialty it calls "chiropractic neurology" could deceive and harm patients, TMA warns in a letter to the board.

"TMA is very concerned that not only will patients be deceived and misled, but many could also suffer injury and harm, for example by delayed diagnosis," TMA President Michael E. Speer, MD, said in a formal letter to Yvette Yarbrough, executive director of the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners. "A patient suffering headaches, syncope, or seizures could have a serious neurological disease, but that patient could easily find himself or herself in a 'chiropractic neurologist's' office. The patient could easily be deceived into believing that this chiropractor could diagnose or treat his or her medical condition, including a brain tumor, aneurism, or stroke. This proposed rule is not in harmony with the Texas Chiropractic Act, the Healing Art Identification Act, or the Health Professions Council Statute."

He noted that some chiropractors are "already pushing the envelope" in their advertisements by burying the designations required under Texas law, thus confusing patients about whether the chiropractor is a physician.

Dr. Speer added that the state Chiropractic Act "makes no reference to neurology. Neurology does not involve the biomechanics of the spine and musculoskeletal system. Neurology is clearly beyond the scope of chiropractic in Texas, and this proposed rule is a brazen effort by the board to circumvent Texas statutory law to expand chiropractors' scope."

Meanwhile, in TMA's lawsuit against the Texas State Board of Marriage and Family Therapists (TSBMFT), both sides filed cross motions for summary judgment, which the court will hear in the coming months. TMA's suit contends the board exceeded its statutory authority when it adopted rules defining "professional therapeutic services" to include a "diagnostic assessment" and authorizing marriage and family therapists to base their services on an "assessment, evaluation, or diagnosis." TMA believes the board's rule unlawfully authorizes marriage and family therapists to diagnose mental diseases and disorders even though therapists have no medical training, and the cause of many mental diseases and disorders is medical and only a physician can treat it.

TSBMFT, joined by the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, claims the board's rules authorizing marriage and family therapists to diagnose "are reasonable and consistent with the statutory scope of practice." They contend that therapists "have been exercising the authority to diagnose in this state for at least 18 years with no known complaints.” According to the board, "Law, public policy, and common sense all dictate that MFTs should be allowed to continue doing so."


Action, Aug. 1, 2012