There are many kinds of medical doctors out there – neurologists, oncologists, pediatricians, and so forth. Outside of medical doctors, there are other sorts of healers who treat and tend to the body as well. Chiropractors are specialists who focus on the bones, joints, and muscles of the spine. They work to improve one’s overall health by adjusting this area of the body. It may come as no surprise, then, that they sometimes injure their patients, just like any medical doctor might.
If a chiropractor causes harm, how does the injured party seek compensation for their injury? Does it count as medical malpractice? The types of injuries one can sustain from malpractice in this field are many and varied, so it is important to know exactly what sort of risk a patient is putting themselves in when they see a chiropractor.
Are chiropractors considered doctors?
No, they are not. Chiropractors may perform spinal adjustments to treat pain or other physical maladies, but they are not medical doctors as they do not hold a Doctor of Medicine.
However, people studying to become chiropractors go through four years of schooling to obtain an undergraduate in the sciences. Then there are four more years of chiropractic schooling. All states require that people who wish to be practicing chiropractors must have a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from a Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) accredited college. Further schooling is sometimes required for those who wish to specialize in a certain area.
Just because a chiropractor is not required to have an M.D., however, does not mean you cannot sue for medical malpractice if they cause you harm. After all, optometrists and dentists do not have M.D.s, either, but they can still be sued for malpractice if their negligence leads to your injuries.
What types of injuries can chiropractic malpractice cause?
Chiropractors use their hands to apply what is called “manipulations” to certain parts of their patients’ bodies. These are done in order to try to help pain in the neck, shoulders, back, pelvis, arms, and hip regions. When someone applies pressure to your back, or pulls on a limb, there is a certain amount of risk. The injuries you can sustain include:
- Nerve compression in the neck
- Nerve compression in the spine (myelopathy)
- Spinal stenosis
- Epidural hematoma
- Vertebral disc extrusion
- Frequent headaches
- Arterial dissection
- Numbness/tingling of limbs
- Lumbar disk herniation
- Soft tissue injuries
- Cervical spine dislocation
- Facial paralysis
- Bodily paralysis
- Wrongful death
It is quite the array of symptoms and maladies, so it is important to know these risks and talk to your primary care provider before seeking out a chiropractor. You may already have existing conditions that may worsen under chiropractic care. These include:
- Severe osteoporosis
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in an appendage
- Spinal cancer
- High stroke risk
- Bone abnormality in the upper neck
When to file medical malpractice for chiropractic negligence in Maryland
If you happen to be injured by a chiropractor’s negligence, then you can seek legal action against the practitioner. Professional malpractice (in the medical field, this is often referred to as medical malpractice) is when you can sue someone you paid for a service, and they performed that service incorrectly or without your permission. With chiropractors, it can be challenging because, in order to prove that they did indeed perform their job incorrectly, the plaintiff needs to show how a professional, knowledgeable chiropractor would have performed under the same circumstances, and that the defendant chiropractor did not meet those standards. This requires that the plaintiff seek out expert witnesses to testify to what should have been done during the procedure, proving the defending chiropractor acted incorrectly.
To do this, the injury attorneys of Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. will consult with experts in the field, who may be asked to give a deposition or testify to what could have gone wrong. We work with your doctors to show the true extent of your injuries, and with financial experts who can explain the financial burdens of your injuries to a jury.
In addition, we may seek to charge the chiropractor with fraud or willful and wanton misconduct if the practitioner in question had performed a procedure that they were not licensed to do. If the chiropractor performed a procedure that you did not agree to, or failed to explain the risks posed by the procedure, we may claim lack of consent to treatment.
Finally, if the chiropractor was aware that you were injured during treatment but failed to inform you, or was aware that you should not undergo spinal manipulation but treated you anyway, you may have a claim for medical negligence. Failure to take an accurate history, perform diagnostic tests, or conduct a physical examination can all be grounds for a claim.
In any case involving serious injury caused by professional negligence, having a lawyer on your side is crucial. The laws around chiropractic procedures are complex, and our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys are intimately familiar with them. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from a chiropractor, then call Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., at 410-730-7737 for help. Or, you can use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices throughout the state to better serve our clients.