The national health regulator and Australia’s health ministers are being lobbied to either sack or overhaul the Chiropractic Board of Australia.
The board is accused of failing to sanction practitioners who have broken advertising laws by making false claims about the benefits of their treatments, such as the ability to cure asthma, or to stop crying in babies.
Dr Ken Harvey from Monash University has made a case for the unprecedented step of a dismissal in the Medical Journal of Australia.
He said the board had had five years to bring chiropractors under their jurisdiction into line.
“In the sense of desisting from making claims and advertisements that lack any scientific basis,” Dr Harvey said.
“They need to do more, they haven’t, I think we need a different chiropractic board.”
The Health Practitioners Act states that advertisements by health professionals must not mislead or deceive. It also states that advertisements shouldn’t contain testimonials, encourage unnecessary treatments, or create an unreasonable expectation of a beneficial treatment.
Dr Harvey said those rules are frequently flouted by some chiropractors, who are then ignored by the board, instead of punished.
“My colleagues and I did a survey and found at least 200 chiropractic websites that we believe were making claims that breached the national law,” he said.
Over a four-month period where there were 10 formal complaints and about 67 separate claims. Dr Harvey said only one website had become fully compliant.
Claims some chiropractors told parents to not vaccinate their kids
Erin Turner from the consumer advocacy organisation Choice said she shared Dr Harvey’s view that misleading claims were widespread in the industry.
“Things like claims that you shouldn’t be vaccinating your children, or recommendations for treatments that have no scientific evidence,” Ms Turner said.