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    Inside Chiropractic

    Sam Homola, D.C.
    Stephen Barrett, M.D.

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    Neck treatment caused stroke, lawsuit claims

    Chiropractic controversy
    Francine Dubé National Post

    An Ontario man who believes a neck treatment caused his debilitating stroke is suing his chiropractor.

    Les Limage, 67, of Waterloo, suffered a stroke on Dec. 5 and now lives in a chronic care facility. He has to be fed through a tube, and his vision and short-term memory are impaired, leaving him unable to read or watch television. He cannot walk. His prognosis is uncertain, according to his wife, Flo, 58.

    "I know that he feels devastated," she said of her husband, the owner of a used-car dealership. "He so enjoyed his life and work."

    An inquest is currently underway in Toronto to determine the cause of death of Lana Lewis, a 45-year-old Toronto woman who died from strokes she sustained after receiving a chiropractic neck manipulation in 1996.

    In 1998, a coronor's inquest into the death of Laurie Jean Mathiason, a 20-year-old Saskatoon woman who died from a massive stroke after a chiropractic neck manipulation, made sweeping recommendations, including putting up warning signs in clinic lobbies.

    The lawsuit, filed this month, states that Mr. Limage sought chiropractic treatment last November from George Hickson, a Waterloo chiropractor, for a hip ailment. On the third visit, Dr. Hickson "suddenly reached up and 'cracked' Les' neck," according to the claim.

    "This was done without first obtaining informed consent, x-rays and/or conducting a proper examination or making an appropriate diagnosis," according to the claim.

    The claim has not been proven in court. To date, no statement of defence has been filed. Dr. Hickson could not be reached for comment.

    Jim Duncan, executive director of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, said chiropractic has an enviable safety record compared to other medical interventions. He pointed out that all patients are required to sign a consent form before treatment. "Informed consent is the law of the land," he said.

    Three days later, on Dec. 3, Mr. Limage returned to the chiropractor, according to the claim. He had a severe headache over his left eye and complained of fatigue.

    "Notwithstanding that Les was worse than before his initial treatment, the defendant treated him again without obtaining informed consent, x-rays and/or conducting a proper examination or making an appropriate diagnosis," according to the claim. "The defendant also failed to advise Les to seek further investigatory procedures or treatment as a result of the symptoms Les was displaying, after having undergone a neck manipulation."

    The following day, Mr. Limage complained of dizziness, neck pain, a headache over his left eye, and extreme fatigue. On Dec. 5, he collapsed in his home. His wife rushed him to hospital where he was diagnosed as suffering from stroke.

    The claim alleges Dr. Hickson was negligent for failing to take a proper patient history and perform proper diagnostic tests, for failing to obtain informed consent and for failing to advise Mr. Limage of other treatments available to him.

    © 2001 National Post Online |