Chiropractor cleared of negligence over Activator treatments

Date: Jul 02, 2018

A woman who launched a medical negligence claim against a chiropractor in NSW has failed to win compensation.

The plaintiff, a former IT professional and qualified doctor, argued that she suffered severe psychological injuries following a series of treatments the defendant performed in 2007.

During the sessions, the chiropractor used an Activator, which is a device that delivers forceful blows to a patient's back to adjust bones in the spine. The technique supposedly applies a correcting force to push the spine back into position if it has become misaligned.

Why did the plaintiff pursue a medical negligence claim?

The woman said she developed severe depression and somatic symptom disorder following the treatments. She further alleged the defendant:

  • Applied the Activator device hundreds of times during the sessions.
  • Did not follow established procedural steps before using the device.
  • Fabricated medical notes after the plaintiff contacted the Health Care Complaints Commission.

The chiropractor denied these claims, although he admitted he could not recall treating the patient. Referring to his medical notes, he said the Activator was only applied on seven occasions across 19 sessions.

Justice Mark Leeming was tasked with deciding whose version of events was more likely, so why did he rule in favour of the defendant?

Were the medical notes forged?

Accusations of forgery are serious and could destroy a medical practitioner's career. In this case, the documents in question were also crucial to whose claims should be believed.

The chiropractor's notes supported his testimony, but an expert witness for the plaintiff argued the notes were "too picture-perfect" and far more detailed than usual for this type of treatment.

Nevertheless, Justice Leeming ruled the documents were genuine and written contemporaneously, emphasising that the plaintiff had not conducted a forensic examination to show otherwise. He acknowledged the plaintiff honestly believed her version of events but found in favour of the defendant.

Pursuing medical negligence claims in NSW

On this occasion, the plaintiff may have been unsuccessful, but this shouldn't deter people who believe they have experienced medical negligence in the state.

Winning a claim can result in significant awards of compensation that can help with medical bills, lost income and superannuation, future care and other expenses.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers offers a no-win, no-fee service, which means our clients don't have to pay legal costs until they receive a favourable outcome. Please contact us today to learn more.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.