Banned chiropractor could be treating infants again by 2021

Matt Woodley

22/02/2019 4:10:01 PM

Andrew Arnold, who was recorded manipulating the spine of a two-week-old baby, is currently under investigation by health authorities.

Chiropractor Andrew Arnold could be treating infants again in just two years.
Chiropractor Andrew Arnold could be treating infants again in just two years.

Mr Arnold has entered into a voluntary undertaking to not treat children up to 12 years of age, pending the results of the investigation, and could have a ban imposed via conditions placed on his registration.
Aside from the potentially dangerous manipulation of the infant’s spine, Mr Arnold has been accused of using treatments, such as ‘cranial sacral therapy’, that are not evidence-based.
Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care, Dr Mark Morgan, has emphasised the importance of GPs only referring patients for evidence-based treatment. He also told newsGP the regulation of chiropractors should ensure patient safety, and that false and misleading claims are not being made.
‘The regulators should be resourced and empowered to monitor and prevent patients from being exposed to potentially harmful treatments and to stop patients from being misled,’ Dr Morgan said.
‘Examples I have seen on videos of babies being manipulated and the spiel that goes with the treatments are deeply worrying.
‘Is this just the tip of the iceberg? It brings into question the effectiveness of chiropractic regulation.’
The experience of another chiropractor, previously suspended by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) under similar circumstances, has also prompted concerns regarding the regulator’s effectiveness and suggests Mr Arnold could once again be treating infants in around two years’ time.
Ian Rossborough was initially suspended in 2016 from treating babies and using spinal manipulation on patients aged between two and six while the Chiropractic Board of Australia (CBA) investigated his conduct.
The investigation stemmed from footage of him cracking the spine of a four-day-old baby, which gained widespread attention and generated over one million views on YouTube.
Mr Rossborough initially entered a voluntary undertaking – as Mr Arnold has done – before conditions applied to his registration on 8 June 2016 limited the treatments he could undertake on children. According to AHPRA, these restrictions were removed on 27 July 2018, leaving Mr Rossborough free to again treat patients of any age.
And despite these conditions, as well as restrictions related to testimonials and advertising, dozens of videos of Mr Rossborough appeared online in 2017 that show the controversial chiropractor performing a range of treatments on children – some as young as three weeks’ old.
The videos were posted to the ‘Gonstead Chiropractic’ YouTube channel, but were produced by Chiropractic Excellence, the name of Mr Rossborough’s clinic, and featured links to his business’ website.
A GoFundMe page established to raise $250,000 to help pay for Mr Rossborough’s legal fees in relation to the CBA investigation states that he had previously received a ‘cautionary reprimand on the use of social media in advertising’ related to the use of his Chiropractic Excellence channel, which currently has more than 150,000 subscribers but no videos.
Many of the videos still online depict Mr Rossborough using chiropractic techniques that are not evidence-based to treat ailments such as ear infections, hearing loss and the common cold – some of which are specifically highlighted by AHPRA in its ‘Examples of chiropractic advertising claims that are not compliant’.

Screenshot of Ian Rossborough treating a child for an ear infection. A link to his clinic’s website is featured underneath the video.

The videos feature a disclaimer that they are for ‘educational purposes’; however, this would appear to contradict an appearance by Mr Rossborough on a 2015 Small Business Big Marketing podcast, in which he discusses using a ‘video marketing strategy’ to generate five million views in two months.
The apparent promotional nature of the videos led to Mr Rossborough being reported to AHPRA in 2017, but the health regulator is yet to take any action.
The videos of Mr Arnold and Mr Rossborough circulating online have compelled prominent consumer health watchdog Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) to again call for limiting the scope of practice of chiropractors.
It argues health treatments advertised to the public and practised on them should be ‘backed by evidence that they are effective and, more importantly, not harmful’.
FSM has called on the Federal Government to follow Sweden’s example and legislate that no child under eight years of age be treated by chiropractors. It has also asked Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, who came out strongly against Mr Arnold in the wake of the video, to demand that the CBA limit the scope of practice of its registrants and set a minimum age for their patients.
A spokesperson for Ms Mikakos told newsGP that the Victorian Government is requesting all regulatory ambiguity be removed so that it’s ‘perfectly clear’ that such practices are ‘never okay’ and are discontinued.
‘The Health Minister is meeting with the Chair of the CBA and CEO of AHPRA next week to discuss our concerns about chiropractors working on babies and request that urgent action is taken,’ the spokesperson said.
‘If the national regulators don’t take action, then we’ll take the matter to the next COAG Health Council to push for national laws that outlaw this practice.’
According to the CBA’s 2017–18 annual report, 91 notifications (complaints or concerns) were lodged with the regulator in relation to some of the 5420 registered chiropractors in Australia. As of 30 June, 40 were being monitored for compliance with restrictions placed on their registration.

AHPRA chiropractor infant scope of practice

newsGP weekly poll What areas of healthcare were you hoping would get more funding in this year's Federal Budget?

newsGP weekly poll What areas of healthcare were you hoping would get more funding in this year's Federal Budget?



Login to comment

Julian Mort   22/02/2019 5:58:54 PM

What a ridiculous article.
Are you also going to restrict GP's and physiotherapists from treating babies?
Is there any evidence that harm was done?
What about the range of paediatric conditions that chiropractors treat like torticollis, clubfoot, klumpke and erb's palsy?
How does a GP treat infantile colic? There is evidence for chiropractic treating colic.
How do you expect a baby to tell you when there back is sore ? What management does the medical profession offer babies that have sore backs as a result of birth trauma? How do they find out?

Mick Jones   23/02/2019 8:16:24 PM

so there were 91 complaints against 5420 registered chiropractors or a complaint rate of less than 2%. How many complaints against GP's? What was the DEATH rate of mismanagement of chiropractic patients vs the death rate of mismanagement of GP patients?
What training/experience does the average GP have in the chiropractic management of patients? For that matter what experience does the author of this piece of drivel?

Joe Bennett   25/02/2019 7:02:01 PM

Given that the evidence for chiropractic is poor, and that there have been negative outcomes from its practice, it should not be allowed for infants. Anecdata is not evidence.
GPs on the other hand used evidence-based interventions.
Anyone learning the background of chiropractic and has a basic understanding of anatomy will realise that the claims are extraordinary, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence which has yet to be presented.

Dr Malcolm Rutledge   26/02/2019 7:08:47 AM

So this old saw horse has raised its ugly head again! Shades of H Doyle Taylor and the AMA Committee on Quackery of the mid-20th century, If GP’s were restricted to referring for evidence-based treatments, our specialist colleagues would go broke. Much of medicine is based on consensus statements of ‘best practice’, which may - or all to frequently may not - incorporate any real science-based evidence of benefit or of avoidance of harm., yet the practice of medicine continues unabated. If you want to look at harm, look closely at our physio colleagues who have poor history in this regard. As a Chiro and a Medic I have both adjusted the infant spine and stuck needles into neonates without resulting harms from the former but occasionally some from the latter. The risk of harm from spinal manipulation by a chiropractor is extraordinarily low compared to medical therapy. We need to cast the beam out of our own medical eye before attempting the mote from our chiropractic colleagues.

Jam Taylor   23/05/2019 11:59:53 PM

Dangerous spinal procedures on healthy infants should illegal.
There is no evidence that spinal manipulation has any health benefit and it has risk. Why perform it on healthy babies? Because it pays well.
These clinicians who perform these sham “treatments” need their license to practice revoked. Save the party trick pops and clicks for your family reunions.

Joel Moonan   14/08/2019 8:30:43 PM

Question...If the procedure is so dangerous and extremely horrible, why was there no evidence of malpractice, and why did he get his licence back to pop babies back?