In Connecticut there is a debate over chiropractic and the topic of informed consent. (News Article) The debate is not over whether there should be informed consent. In fact, in the United States, informed consent is already mandatory for all health care providers. Informed consent is supported by chiropractors. It is in the best interest of our patients . No! This debate is over whether chiropractors should be forced to inform every patient of a risk of stroke.
There are many problems with this.
The most obvious is that chiropractic is not known to cause stroke. The only evidence even remotely related does not show that it causes stroke, but that there is an association. The same association that exists with medical doctors (oh, and hair dressers). So if it’s not known to cause it why would you force chiropractors to inform people of the risk. I think I know the reason.
If it is required for chiropractors then it should also be required of all health care practitioners that have equivalent risks. Can you imagine walking into every doctor’s office and having to sign a paper that says that if you came to that office to see them for neck, head or upper back pain there is a possibility you could have a stroke after seeing this doctor. Either no one would go to doctors for those conditions or it would become so prevalent that the warning would become like the boy who cried wolf, useless.
Another problem is the actual risk level that we are talking about. The risk of having a stroke after seeing a chiropractor is somewhere in the region of 30-300 times less likely than you dying in a lightning strike. Should I have to also warn my patients that they may aspirate and die from that water I recommended they drink.
Defining what must be included in informed consent adds loopholes for dishonest people and destroys the purpose of informed consent, that of an honest and open conversation between a doctor and a patient. Please doctors share the likely and serious risks with your patients. Inform them, by all means. Don’t get ridiculous.