The use of the doctor title by chiropractors has long been a controversial issue. A recent statement from the UK General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is aimed at creating clarity for UK chiropractors. It is directly from the website of the GCC:
Recently, the GCC has received some queries regarding the use of ‘Doctor’ for chiropractors.
As a reminder, if the courtesy title of ‘Doctor’, or its abbreviation ‘Dr’ or ‘DC’ is used, any public-facing content must state clearly that this is not as a registered medical practitioner, but a ‘Doctor of Chiropractic’.
We urge all registrants to review their public-facing materials, on- and offline, to ensure that they fully comply with these requirements. To assist, we have published three communication-focussed toolkits on social media, advertising and websites, providing useful guidance and advice on how best to remain compliant to GCC and Advertising Standards Authority requirements.
Internationally, chiropractors seem keen on the doctor title. So much so, that they even claim that DD and BJ Palmer, the inventors of chiropractic, were doctors:
Chiropractic as a profession was established by Dr. D. D. Palmer in 1895 … The International Chiropractors Association (ICA) is here to serve the chiropractic community worldwide. Established in 1926 in Davenport, Iowa, USA by Dr. B.J. Palmer, the ICA is the world’s oldest international chiropractic professional organization representing practitioners, students, chiropractic assistants, educators and lay persons globally.
In the US, it seems therefore entirely normal that chiropractors use the doctor title. In the UK, however, it is less common.
Remember the tragic case of John Lawler? He consulted a ‘Dr.’ thinking she was a medical doctor. She turned out to be a chiro and the patient paid with his life. Recently, the GCC found that the chiro was not guilty of any wrongdoing. It took me less than 10 minutes on the Internet to find plenty who do use the doctor title or allow it to be used on their website:
- Thanks to Dr Jasper for helping me to get rid of the terrible back pain
- Dr. Mo is a chiropractor in Manchester and Stockport helping with back pain, sciatica, neck pain, headaches.
- Dr Maria Madge is an experienced chiropractor working in Norfolk.
- Dr James Shervell has 25 years’ experience to help with your pain…
So, in the spirit of goodwill and constructive criticism, may I make a suggestion to the GCC? Instead of issuing reminders like the one above, could you please invest a little time (a few hours would probably suffice), identify all of those of your members who still misuse the title, and instruct them to stop? It just might prevent tragedies like the above-mentioned Lawler case from happening again!