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The GCC has published its draft guidance further to its review on the use of diagnostic imaging in chiropractic.

The GCC invites feedback on the draft guidance so that Council, at its meeting in December 2021, can consider making any changes prior to the publication of final guidance.

The guidance is designed to assist chiropractors in their decision-making around the use of diagnostic imaging. It has been developed to help protect patients and the public as well as promoting the best use of imaging for the effective assessment and care of patients. The guidance is based on the principles of evidence-based practice  and informed consent.

Background to review

In August 2017, an 80-year old gentleman consulted a chiropractor in York. He had been experiencing pains in his legs and sought advice and treatment from a chiropractor. The patient became unwell during chiropractic treatment and was subsequently discovered to have suffered severe neck injuries that, tragically, proved fatal.

At post-mortem, it was discovered that the patient was suffering from an underlying spinal disorder that caused ligaments in his neck to have calcified and his spine to have become rigid. At the Inquest, the Coroner noted that no pre-treatment images were taken of the patient’s spine.  Furthermore, the Coroner heard evidence from two experienced chiropractic expert witnesses who both stated that in the circumstances of the case there was a body of reasonable chiropractors who would not have undertaken diagnostic imaging of the cervical spine.

The Coroner requested the GCC undertake a review of the requirement for pre-treatment imaging to determine whether a patient is suitable for treatment. The draft guidance together with the accompanying reports are the outputs from the review to date.

The review was carried out by an expert group, drawn from a range of backgrounds. Its purpose was to explore the clinical evidence for the use of x-ray in chiropractic, taking into account extant guidelines to identify whether and/or when diagnostic imaging takes place prior to a patient receiving spinal manual therapy. It was also asked to consider the case for best practice guidance to be adopted by the profession.

The guidance, background document and discussion document can be found on our consultation page.

The consultation closes on 26 November 2021.