Public awareness is steadily increasing over the realities of risks relating to medical care. The assumptions over relative safety of conventional medical practices are challenged by the mounting statistics on morbidity and mortality relating to medical errors, fatal drug interactions, overuse and misuse of prescription medication, unnecessary surgery, hospital deaths, and other tragic experiences. The numbers are astounding, and while individual statistics may vary between different reports and different official agency sources including health research libraries and the National Institutes of Health, the nature of the data and the magnitude of the problem is increasingly acknowledged.

There have been a number of landmark reports and commentaries clarifying the safety of chiropractic care and describing the genuine risks of complications from medical interventions. Some resources present the accumulating data on the dangers of medical procedures and others illustrate the patterns of misrepresentation and exaggeration presented through mainstream medicine and the media in reporting and representing chiropractic care. Some examples and resources are provided here:

Morbidity and Mortality Rates of Medical Care

Double Standards in Reporting Risks of Chiropractic Care

Morbidity and Mortality Rates of Medical Care
  • A frequently referenced publication addressing clinical issues and related research literature, Current Concepts in Vertebrobasilar Complications, includes information on the death and morbidity rates of common medical treatments in the course of reviewing and discussing research concerning safety of chiropractic care and related procedures. Dr. Allan G.J. Terrett, who has served on the editorial board of three professional journals and as an associate professor at the RMIT University, Melbourne, provides data supporting the safety of chiropractic care and shares statistics on concerns over risks in medical practices:

    Excerpts from Current Concepts in Vertebrobasilar Complications (Dr. Allan G.J. Terrett, 2001, ISBN 1-892734-03-6) noting in the paragraphs below some startling insights on the issues involved in medical errors and morbidity and mortality complications.

    Current Concepts in Vertebrobasilar Complications, Appendix 3: Death and Morbidity Rates of Common Medical Treatments:

    (Dr. Terrett in his discussions on risk concerns with medical practice quotes Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS (editors) in "To err is human. Building a safer health system." (Washington DC, National Academy Press; 1999) where it was reported,)

    "President Clinton has called for a nationwide system of reporting medical errors in the wake of last year's Institute of Medicine report, which found that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year from medical mistakes."

    (In addition, Dr. Terrett provides a quotation from an article appearing in the Gloucester County Times in 1994 by Cloud DM, Ingram D, reported in an article from the May 1994 edition of the Journal of Chiropractic, describing complications from medical therapy:)

    - 1.5 million people will be hospitalized annually because of iatrogenic (physician caused) reactions, and 100,000 will die,
    - 1,000 people will die this week from complications of surgery that was unnecessary,
    - 1,600 children will die this year from allergic reactions to aspirin, and,
    - thousands of people will die this year from anaphylactic reactions to prescribed drugs.

    (Dr. Terrett also discusses observations made by Dr. Lucian Leape, adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, and discussions in "Safe health care: Are we up to it?" (Leape LL, Berwick DM; March 2000 edition of the British Medical Journal) and in "How your hospital could kill you", (Gerlin A; Readers Digest 2000)

    "Dr. Lucian Leape (adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health) estimated that one million patients nationwide are injured by medical errors during hospital treatment each year, and 120,000 patients die because of medical error. That's equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every day and is three times more the number of people killed each year in U.S. motor-vehicle accidents. They found out that one out every 200 patients died as a result of a hospital mistake, and that errors accounted for 69% of injuries caused by medical treatment that lengthened hospitalization or led to a disability upon discharge."

    Double Standards in Reporting Risks of Chiropractic Care
  • One of the more recent and most comprehensive reviews of data, references and issues on many clinical and political realities of the health care is provided in the book, Squandering Billions. Researched and written by Gary Bannerman, veteran journalist, consultant and public affairs broadcaster and Dr. Don Nixdorf, a prominent health professional and authority in health care policy, governmental and trade association relations, discusses and demonstrates the brutally serious repercussions of mistakes, inefficiency and adverse events experienced with conventional medical care.

    Excerpts from Squandering Billions (Gary Bannerman, Don Nixdorf, D.C.. Hancock House Publishers, 2005 ISBN 0-088839-602-3, provided in the paragraphs below offer some important insights on the issues involved. More information also available at

    Click here to download a sample chapter from Squandering Billions: Ch. 3 - Adverse Events

    Squandering Billions - Chapter 3, Adverse Events:

    The double standard

    "..It should be noted that the most conservative scientific study of chiropractic neck manipulation established that the risk of stroke from the treatment is one out of every 400,000 patients. A study in the October 2, 2001 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal put this risk at one patient in 5.85 million. Contrast that to the facts presented earlier in this chapter"  between four and nine out of every 1,000 patients entering an acute care hospital in Canada will die because of a preventable medical mistake. The risk factor for chiropractic neck manipulation shows that it is safer than taking Aspirin. The risk of stroke caused by birth control pills is one in 24,000. This means the birth control pill is from 16 to 240 times more dangerous than chiropractic neck manipulation.

    Other scientific studies have documented the high rate of deaths and disabilities that result from common medical procedures, including a one out of 200 mortality rate for laminectomies and a two in 100 mortality rate for spinal fusions. One out of every 145 cervical neck surgery procedures end in death. And in a study of 1,000 workers' compensation patients who received lumbar fusions, 71 percent of single-operation patients had not returned to work four years after their operation, and 95 percent of multiple-operation patients had not returned to work. They remain disabled.