The answer is, some chiropractors do practice in hospitals, though they are few and far between. There are none here in Utah were I practice. Chiropractors have in their scope of practice the ability to order lab tests, MRIs, etc… Hospitals and labs across the nation honor this, and will perform medical outpatient procedures for chiropractors.
Here are some, of the many possible reasons chiropractors aren’t working in hospitals:
- Doctors are trying to get out of hospitals. Hospitals tell you how you can practice even more than insurance companies do. They set your income, rather than your earnings being determined by your efforts. They set what you do and how much you will be paid for it, they are a business after all.
- Politics of the past, medical doctors and chiropractors did not get along well. We are very near the end of that era, but there is still some animosity between the older generation on both sides, and it sometimes will trickle down into the younger doctors. That inhibits some from joining forces.
- Hospitals don’t really know what to do with chiropractors. They have a structure, and chiropractors don’t fit well into it. Even if we did, they don’t know what we can do, or how to bill for it. It would take some effort to integrate a chiropractor into a medical system, and there aren’t really many models to work from.
Hospitals are always looking to improve patient satisfaction. Chiropractors have the highest patient satisfaction rating in healthcare. A way that we can improve that rating for a hospital is by offering relief and improvement where previously there was none. The two places I would begin is in the Emergency Room, and the Women’s and Children’s department.
The ER sees many cases where people just want to make sure things are not life threatening. The prime example is a car accident. Even if you don’t feel really bad after an accident it is a good idea to get checked out, just in case. When the ER finishes it’s tests and finds nothing broken or bleeding they usually send you away with serious pain killers to cover the pain of your “whiplash”. These are the kind of things that chiropractors deal with all of the time. We can reduce the healing time, and treat the issue without masking it with medication.
The same kind of thing is important for expecting mothers. They visit their OB in the hospital for their back pain. There isn’t much that they can take, medication wise, due to possible effects on the baby. This leaves the doctor with few options. Chiropractic is a proven medication free treatment that can relive the back pain of pregnant patients.
Hospitals can be a great help to chiropractors also. There are many times that chiropractors will find something that needs to be treated, but the pain that the patient is in is too much to allow chiropractic manipulation. Muscle relaxants and pain medication in these situations can allow a chiropractor to perform the needed procedures. Not to mention the many illnesses that chiropractors find that are out of their scope for treatment. Being in a hospital would allow them ready access to the best person for the job.
I think that hospitals incorporating chiropractic would be a great synergistic relationship. I hope that Utah hospitals will soon be open to this kind of opportunity. Things would improve, even if they just set up a working relationship with each other. They don’t have to be in the same building.