I have often warned that, even if chiropractic manipulations were harmless (which they are clearly not), this would not necessarily apply to those who administer them, the chiropractors. They can do harm via interfering or advising against conventional interventions (the best-research example is immunization) or by treating conditions that they are not competent to tackle (like ear infections), or giving advice that endangers the health of the patient.

Italian authors reported the case of a 67-year-old woman, who had been suffering from low back pain due to herniated discs, decided to undergo chiropractic treatment. According to the chiropractor’s prescription, the patient drank about 8 liters of water in a day. During the afternoon, she developed headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, for which reason she consulted the chiropractor, who reassured the patient and suggested continuing the treatment in order to purify the body. The next day, following the intake of another 6 liters of water, the patient developed sudden water retention, loss of consciousness, and tonic-clonic seizures; for this reason, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit with a coma from electrolyte alterations.

The diagnosis of water intoxication was stated based on the history reported by the family members; according to the clinical findings, the hydro-electrolytic alterations were adequately corrected, allowing the disease resolution. Once resolved the intoxication, the patient underwent surgery to treat a shoulder dislocation and a humerus fracture which occurred due to a fall consequent to the tonic-clonic seizures.

The Judicial Authority thus ordered a medico-legal evaluation of the chiropractor’s behavior in order to identify any professional liability issue.

The Italian authors commented that this case is peculiar since it shows the dangerous implications for the patients’ health and safety deriving from the prescription of a large quantity of water intake, without any control by the chiropractor, and thus underestimating the risks of such a practice, as evidenced by the suggestion to continue the water intake aiming to detoxify the body from pharmacological substances. As a consequence, the patient developed a severe form of hyponatremia, leading to life-threatening complications that could have been otherwise avoided.

The medico-legal evaluation of the case led to the admission of professional liability of the chiropractor, who
thus had to pay the damages to the patient.

It is, of course, tempting to argue that the patient was not very clever to follow this ridiculous advice (and that the chiropractor was outright stupid to give it). One might even go further and argue that most patients trusting chiros are not all that smart … one could … but it is far from me to do so.

23 Responses to Another indirect risk of chiropractic

  • So if I show you 10 liability cases against MD’s from the past month does that mean seeing a medical doctor is dangerous or is it just when you have a private agenda to push?

    By the way, in your last post in your crusade against chiropractors you made some strange statistical analysis with no evidence what so ever… you ignored my request for an explanation … do you still stick to these claims or did you erase the post?

    • In case you haven’t noticed: this blog is about ALTERNATIVE medicine.
      But I’d be nevertheless interested to see your 10 PUBLISHED liability cases against MDs from the past month. Please do send them!

  • MDs do indeed cause iatrogenic injuries – but the point is that they are edcated as carefully and pointedly as possible in order that they do not.
    Chiropractors, for some reason I have never understood, believe spinal adjustments can allow freedom of ‘innate intellegence’ and thus cure ills.

    Some, finding that some patients do indeed report ‘feeling better’ after a session, believe they have even more insight and understanding and offer advice right out of the park.
    As in this case. And as Dunning and Kreuger pointed out.

    If a student wants to practice medicine, why don’t they do so. Why bother with chiropractic?

  • i am sure you have noticed the WHO did not include Chiropractic as an ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE


    should we continue? this can go on forever… the difference is that i know to appreciate my colleagues and know that vast majority of MD’s are caring responsible competent physician despite these rare cases… but i don’t have a personal agenda to push or a book to promote

    • “should we continue?”
      no, you should START!
      so far, none of the cases are from the last month – and you promised me 10!

    • Last year I sent FOI requests to all universities who teach chiro, requesting syllabus details. All refused my request outright. If chiro is all above board, and only (only!) 1 in 5 chiros believe in the ‘original’ magic, I have to ask: what do the educators of chiropractors have to hide?

      • That’s very odd indeed.

        Surely any Higher Education course should have no problem with furnishing course content to enquirers. I worked for 21 years is a large college of Further and Higher Education, and could easily have given enquirers a list of all the Units making up any of the courses I taught on. And the content of each unit is more or less in the public domain, via Unit Descriptors on the Scottish Qualifications Authority website. It doesn’t take a FoI inquiry to obtain such information.

        Something very havey-cavey about an institution or department that won’t provide such information. Caveat emptor.

      • Do you have any idea how many syllabi that would be?

  • How would the chiropractic industry view a chiropractor who posts a video on his website saying that Covid-19 is ‘just hysteria’ and all people need to do was have regular adjustments? *





    Well, the answer is ‘all of the above.’

    So what did the regulator do when this was the subject of a formal complaint?

    Answer? Nothing.

    That’s what’s wrong with the chiropractic industry. It’s a shower of unregulated quackery. Until the industry as a whole cleans up its act and implements effective regulation, it will always be thus.

    * See Australian chiropractor Morgan Weber’s video at

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