Physicians Ask Court to Protect Patients From Illegal Chiropractic Activities

For Immediate Release
Sept. 14, 2006
Contact: Steve Levine 
phone: (512) 370-1380 
cell: (512) 750-0971 
Steve Levine

Contact: Pam Udall
phone:(512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807 
Pam Udall

Contact: Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
Brent Annear

 A chiropractor is not a medical doctor, and a state agency has no legal authority to blur the line between them, the nation's largest state medical society said today in a lawsuit challenging recent decisions by the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners  (PDF).

"To protect public safety, the Texas Constitution and state law sharply distinguish the practice of medicine from the activities of chiropractors and other limited-license practitioners," said Ladon W. Homer, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association. "The scope of practice of allied health professionals should not exceed what is safely permitted by their education, training, and skills."

The lawsuit filed today specifically asks a Travis County district court to invalidate the Chiropractic Board's rules that would permit chiropractors to perform clinical needle electromyography (EMG) and spinal manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) because both procedures constitute the clinical and legal practice of medicine. Both procedures can cause serious injuries to patients if they are not performed by properly trained physicians.  MUA is a surgical procedure, and EMG is a diagnostic procedure. Texas law prohibits chiropractors from performing surgery or from diagnosing physical diseases, disorders, deformities, or injuries.

"Chiropractors have no legal right to engage in the practice of medicine, and allowing them to do so undermines the purposes of the Texas Medical Practice Act; which are, in part, to set requirements for those who wish to practice medicine, thereby safeguarding patients who receive medical care," the lawsuit states. "[A] chiropractor's license does not entitle that person to practice medicine, and any law that permits him or her to do so is unconstitutional."

EMG is an invasive diagnostic procedure during which the physician inserts an electrode into a patient's muscles to diagnose the cause of neuromuscular disease ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

"The results of needle EMG are used to make critical medical decisions regarding the need for surgery, further testing such as MRI, medications, and the determination of disability," the TMA lawsuit states. "Misdiagnosis can mean delayed or inappropriate treatment (including unnecessary surgery) and diminished quality of life for patients."

MUA is a surgical technique chiropractors employ supposedly to alleviate acute and chronic neck and back pain. Texas' chiropractic law specifically prohibits chiropractors from performing any type of surgical procedure.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 41,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA's key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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