Doctors differ over chiropractic
Neurologist tells jury patients `feel better` after neck therapy
Cal Millar
Staff reporter
A Sunnybrook hospital neurologist says he doesn't share the views of a Montreal doctor who helped a family bring a lawsuit in the death of a woman who died 17 days after a chiropractic neck adjustment.

Dr. John Norris told an inquest jury he doesn't refer patients to chiropractors, but said he has a number of patients who have told him they "feel better" after chiropractic treatment.

In 1997, Norris attended a press conference where the family of Lana Dale Lewis announced it was filing a $12 million suit against chiropractor Philip Emanuele and a number of chiropractic organizations.

"I was there to give support to the family," as well as attest to the possibility that neck manipulation can cause a dissection of the vertebral artery and lead to a stroke, he said.

Lewis, 45, the mother of three children, died in September, 1996, 17 days after a chiropractic treatment. Members of her family believe her death was a direct result of Emanuele manipulating her neck.

Toronto lawyer Tim Danson, who is representing the Canadian Chiropractic Association and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, questioned Norris extensively about why he attended the news conference.

"It didn't enter my mind that it was a conflict of interest or the wrong thing to do," he testified.

Norris said he had been involved in a national study into the causes of stroke and accepted an invitation to attend from Dr. Murray Katz, the Montreal doctor who was helping the family.

Norris said he had some preliminary findings from the study that he was prepared to make public.

"You chose to do this on the same stage the Lewis family was launching a lawsuit against the core of the chiropractic community," Danson said.

"I was invited to go along on the basis of the data," Norris said. "I wanted to do it. I was doing someone a favour."

Norris said he met Katz shortly before the news conference and developed a friendship, but at all times has disassociated himself from the Montreal doctor's views about chiropractors.

"I don't agree with him," he said. "I don't share his views on chiropractic in general."

When Danson asked if Katz was an outspoken enemy of chiropractors, Norris described him as a crusader. "He's an outspoken crusader against chiropractors," he said.

Norris said he once arranged for Katz to address doctors at Sunnybrook hospital and agreed with Danson that the presentation was unfair, unprofessional and unscientific.

Danson tabled a letter to Howard Vernon, associate dean of the chiropractic college from Dr. John Edmeads of Sunnybrook hospital, which apologized for the content and tenor of the presentation.

"We had anticipated a scientific presentation on the occurrence of stroke secondary to cervical manipulation, but instead of civil discourse, we saw a rambling and savage sandbagging of chiropractic," Edmeads wrote.

Norris said he "roughly agreed" with the comments.

"He got out of hand," Norris said. "Looking back, I should have written a letter of apology."

Danson showed Norris a report from a royal commission in New Zealand where Katz was criticized for what was described as a "deliberate course of lies and deceit without any appearance of shame" and asked why he would still have contact with him.

"As a friend, not a colleague," he said. "If it turn out he's a friend who has a criminal past ... I'm not going to hold that against him."

Norris earlier told Tom Schneider, the lawyer for the coroner who is putting forward evidence at the inquest, that he couldn't recall what reports he had used to base his conclusion that there was a "strong likelihood" Lewis died from stroke following neck manipulation.

He said he probably saw pathology reports prepared in April, 1997 by Dr. John Deck and Dr. Michael Pollanen, but he's not sure if he asked about the woman's medical history.

The inquest continues today.

Legal Notice:- Copyright 1996-2002. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.