March 2003 Issue

In this issue:


April is National Backpack Safety Month

The month of April has been designated as National Backpack Safety Month by the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations, (COCSA).  This organization is an association of other US state chiropractic organizations. This month-long event is designed to help educate parents, children and school officials about the potential dangers of heavy backpacks used by children and the solutions to this problem.  This is the second year for this event.  However, this year a large corporate sponsor has joined in.  Office Depot will be promoting the program directly to school officials across the country. Office Depot, Inc. is one of the world's largest sellers of stationary supplies to schools.

Dr. Jerry DeGrado, Vice President of COCSA, and Chairperson of the National Backpack Safety Committee, commented on this years events by saying, "This program is going to explode with Office Depot’s support. They give us the all-important ‘foot-in-the-door’ that is so often the most difficult first step with this kind of program. With Office Depot introducing the program to schools and the continued involvement of doctors of chiropractic across the country, the National Backpack Safety Program promises to be bigger than ever in 2003."

In a February 22, 2003 release, COCSA President, Dr. Kevin Donovan, also added,  “Recent research reports that a majority of today’s students are carrying more than the recommended weight levels and sustaining significant injury that may last a lifetime. It is imperative that doctors of chiropractic become involved with this growing epidemic. I am very excited that the chiropractic community has taken a leadership position and created national focus on the issue of backpack injury."

On their website, COCSA offers two links of importance on this subject.  The first is a Facts About Backpack Injury,  and the second is Ways to Prevent Backpack Injury.  Both these are available for free download in Adobe pdf format.


Many Parents Don't Know Cold Facts

The above is the title from an article which appeared in the February 3, 2003 issue of WebMD.  The article reported on a survey from Children's Hospital, Boston, and was published in the American Academy of Pediatrics February issue of the journal, "Pediatrics." The study noted that in 1998 colds accounted for 1.6 million emergency room visits and 25 million ambulatory visits by both children and adults. They also noted that most colds are caused by viruses and do not require any medical intervention. In spite of this they noted that many families seek medical care for the treatment of colds.  The objective of this study was to determine if parental misconceptions about the cause and appropriate treatment of colds may contribute to unnecessary medical services.

The results of the survey revealed some common misconceptions parents have about colds.  Although 93% of parents understood that viruses caused colds, 66% of parents also believed that colds were caused by bacteria.  Additionally, 53% believed that antibiotics were needed to treat colds. The article noted that both these concepts are false yet they are common beliefs among parents. The survey also revealed that parents said if their child had a cold, 23% of them said they'd go to an emergency room and 60% said they'd go to their doctor's office.

In response the American Academy of Pediatrics issued some common sense advice to parents who have children with colds.  That advice included the following:

The researchers themselves concluded that there are vast misconceptions about the appropriate treatment of colds, and that these misconceptions cause an increase in health service utilization. Their suggestion for correcting this problem was increased specific educational interventions for families. It is their hope that such education may reduce inappropriate antibiotic-seeking behavior and unnecessary medical care for colds.


Case Study on Chiropractic Care for Chronic Chest Pain

The February 2003 issue of the research journal, The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, (JMPT), published a case study of a 49 year old man who suffered from chest pain.  The patient, a music composer, was exercising on a treadmill during part of his regular physical workout routine when he developed a dull and achy chest pain with some difficulty breathing.  The patient did not seek immediate help for the condition, thinking that it would resolve on its own.

Over the next two weeks the pain increased and the patient sought medical care. A visit to his internist revealed the patient's blood pressure to be 140/97. He was diagnosed with muscular chest pain, secondary to tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and hypertension (elevated blood pressure). Treatment was a prescription of a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs and beta-blockers. The patient felt that his beta-blockers made him extremely drowsy, and the anti-inflammatory drugs did not relieve his chest pain.

In spite of the medication, most all of the man's problems seemed to worsen.  After extensive testing, all findings were deemed normal, and the internist declared that the patient's heart and lungs were healthy.  Over time, the patient's symptoms had progressively worsened to the point that the chest pain radiated sharply into his upper back as well. The pain was so severe that he was unable to sleep at night or perform simple activities of daily living without increasing his pain. Anxiety over the severity of his condition also began to affect the patient's emotional well-being, and got to the point of precluding the patient's active employment and most physical activity.

Finally the debilitated man sought chiropractic care. His chiropractic examination showed an increase in many reflexes and the conclusion was that the man had subluxations.  Chiropractic care was initiated at that time.  After only one session, the man immediately rose to a standing position after the chiropractic adjustment, he then took a deep breath and exclaimed that he could breathe much easier. 

The patient was placed on a program of sustaining chiropractic care, initiated 3 times per week.  The study showed that the patient responded favorably to chiropractic, obtaining prompt relief from his symptoms. Sustained chiropractic care rendered over a 14-week period resulted in complete resolution of the patient's previously chronic condition, with recovery maintained at 9-month follow-up.


Bacteria Are Winning Fight Against Drugs

In the March 10, 2003 issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution there was an article that warns of the ever increasing drug resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. The article starts off by saying, "Antibiotic resistance is increasing swiftly among the bacteria that cause meningitis, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, sinusitis and childhood ear infections."  The article reports on a study published in the March 9, 2003 issue of the British journal, Nature Medicine.

Researchers say that the increase is up from about 9 percent in 1996.  It is estimated that at the current rate of increase, more than 40 percent of all such infections will be resistant to at least two widely used antibiotics, penicillin and erythromycin, by the middle of next year.

The increasing fear is that people will become infected with resistant strains of bacteria.  Cynthia Whitney, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and a co-author of the study reports "Most of the increases in resistance appears to be related to outpatient prescribing practices."   It is the overuse of antibiotics that has been generally blamed for the ever increased resistance of bacteria to even the newest antibiotics.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported on a 43-state survey of hospital intensive care units last month that showed the bacteria responsible for serious urinary tract infections and hospital-acquired pneumonia have grown increasingly resistant to Cipro, one of the newest and most widely used antibiotics.  It was additionally reported that public health authorities in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston have reported outbreaks of a drug-resistant form of staph, which can be spread on contact.

Hospitals are now noticing that some highly resistant "superbugs" have become resistant to all major types of antibiotics. This presents a problem that makes once treatable infections sometimes fatal putting some of the sickest patients in hospitals at serious risk.  The issue has become so critical that a nationwide campaign has been initiated by the CDC and medical associations to persuade doctors and patients to use antibiotics more judiciously. Many doctors now refuse to prescribe antibiotics for colds and other upper respiratory viral infections, which are unaffected by antibiotics.


More Animals Getting Chiropractic Care

Several recent articles are beginning to note that more animals are getting chiropractic care.  A February 26, 2003 article from the Iowa North Scott Press reports on a veterinarian Dr. Jill White who took special courses, completed a practicum, watched videos and passed an exam in order to become a certified veterinary chiropractitioner. She says chiropractic for animals is used for many of the same reasons owners seek traditional treatment, a decrease in performance levels.   "The animals just love it," says Dr. White of chiropractic treatment. "It's pretty exciting to see one go from not being able to perform, to being able to perform almost immediately," she says. "It's very rewarding." 

 In 1996, the largest organization of veterinarians in the United States, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), gave its seal of approval to alternative remedies for pets. In their new guidelines, the AVMA stated that “sufficient clinical and anecdotal evidence exists” to suggest real benefits from a number of unconventional approaches — including chiropractic and homeopathy."

This new development does not go without some controversy as both chiropractors and veterinarians battle over who should be allowed to render chiropractic care to animals.  But Veterinarian groups claim that only veterinarians should be allowed to treat animals while chiropractors claim that there is no real reason, other than a turf war that should prevent chiropractors who desire to and are trained, from seeing animals.  The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, an organization started in 1989 by a Michigan woman who is both a veterinarian and a chiropractor, lists 228 practicing animal chiropractors in the United States.  But nearly 70% of those listed are veterinarians who can legally perform chiropractic adjustments. The rest are traditional chiropractors, who also treat animals.

For the most part, both chiropractors and veterinarians agree that chiropractic adjustments help animals, particularly horses and dogs that participate in athletic competitions.


Hospital, Chiropractic College Collaborate on Patient Care

More hospitals are now making chiropractic care available to patients.  One such program was reported in the March 2003 issue of the magazine, Chiropractic Economics. In that article it is reported that Monroe Community Hospital, a teaching nursing home in New York, has teamed up with New York Chiropractic College to establish a chiropractic clinic to serve individuals with a host of chronic disabilities. The target patients for this are frail nursing home residents who traditionally could not receive chiropractic services.

The article notes that this collaboration allows patients to experience relief of their spinal pain through chiropractic care. Monroe Community Hospital and New York Chiropractic College have since decided to commit additional time for patient visits in the consultative clinic, and the program has spawned related research projects. Chiropractic services at the hospital are now offered three days per week under the direction of a NYCC professor.

The program was initiated after  Dr. J. Donald Dishman,  a New York Chiropractic College clinician and researcher, introduced the pilot program in 2002 that demonstrated chiropractic's efficacy in treating chronically ill patients.


Patients Used as Drug Guinea Pigs

In a startling expose published in the February 9, 2003 Guardian Unlimited comes the revelation that humans are being used as unwilling test subjects for experimental drugs. The article starts off with the story of how Italia Sudano was astonished to discover that her trusted GP who she had been seeing for modest high blood pressure had been using her as a guinea pig by giving her tablets which had not been medically approved. Worse still, he was being paid to do so by a pharmaceutical company.

The story reported that Sudano's ordeal began when her MD, Dr. Adams took a blood test and asked her to return the next week.  On one of her visits, Dr. Adams took a bottle of pills from the top drawer of his desk and suggested Sudano take one a day. While she thought it strange she wasn't being given a prescription, she trusted her doctor.  Within hours of swallowing the pill, she could hardly walk because she was so dazed. Her face had swollen up badly and she was in considerable pain. She stopped taking the tablets and complained to Hertfordshire Health Authority. This started an investigation that led to one of the largest cases of medical research fraud ever uncovered in Britain.

The subsequent investigation revealed that over the previous five years Adams had earned a considerable amount of money from drug companies, including the European giants AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer. These companies were all paying Adams to test their new drugs on his patients. Like Sudano, many of his patients had never given their consent and had no knowledge they were being used as human guinea pigs. Patients with no symptoms were also given drugs and others who needed proper medication were given placebos. Adams was receiving a fee for each patient he used in these unwilling human studies. Eventually, Adams was found guilty by the General Medical Council (GMC) of serious professional misconduct and suspended for 12 months.

The drug companies responded Guardian Unlimitedby blaming the controversy on some bad apples and the odd errant doctor milking the system.  They insist that human trials using GPs are essential for medical advances and that payment to doctors for the extra work involved is ethically correct.

An investigation by The Observer also revealed that many British doctors are risking their patients' health by subjecting them to medical trials without their knowledge. The investigation by The Observer suggests the problem of GPs using patients as guinea pigs without their consent is more widespread. Some 3,000 doctors each year are paid by drug firms to sign up their patients to tests and on average 15 patients are needed for each trial.  The article states that Medical fraud experts estimate that one per cent of all drug trials involve fraud, including failure to get proper consent from patients. This means hundreds of patients a year are being given unapproved and potentially dangerous drugs without their knowledge.

David Hinchcliffe, the Labour chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, described the situation as bordering on 'scandalous' and said his committee would look into the issue. He said: "The relationship between the drug firms and the medical profession is one that needs to be thoroughly investigated. It is extremely worrying that patients' trust is being abused by doctors who are more interested in making money from the pharmaceutical industry."

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