The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) set the legal requirements for chiropractors and ensures standards are maintained. Like the General Medical Council this is a Government run regulatory body that is responsible for protecting patient well-fare. They work very hard to monitor chiropractors in practice, set education regulations and carry out disciplinary procedures, but on occasion the odd bad apple slips through the net.
So how do you tell which is which? Good from bad as it were.
First, ensure the chiropractor is GCC registered. If they aren’t, they are not a chiropractor and are breaking the law. Unlicensed medical practice places patients at risk of misdiagnosis, ineffective or unsafe treatment, and even abuse.
Recommendation is a great indicator of a good chiropractor, and this is the number one way people find a chiropractor. Asking around and looking for external reviews (not just those on a business’s website) is a very useful way of finding out if a chiropractor has a good reputation.
Another sign of a good chiropractor is initial appointment length. The initial consultation is where the chiropractor must assess and diagnose your problem. This may be very straightforward, but the chiropractor should still take time to rule out causes of pain that are not mechanical in origin, and also to determine your goals from treatment. In my opinion this cannot be achieved in less than 45 minutes.
Treatment times less than 15 minutes also tend to indicate a lower level of service and provide opportunity to overlook things.
Full spinal x-rays are a warning signal. This isn’t a big issue any more since IRMER (Ionising Radiation- Medical Exposure- Regulation) was introduced in 2000, however, some old fashioned chiropractors still carry out this practice. This exposes patients to unnecessary radiation, often isn’t clinically relevant, and is very expensive.
Prepayment packages are a definite sign that the clinic you are visiting is purely financially orientated. These often come in the buy 10 now and only pay for 9 guise. Be very careful, because this is just a con to encourage you to part with your money.
Any chiropractor or clinic who is not wholly transparent with their fees should generally alert suspicion. Things to be aware of include a low consultation fee used to entice new business. Often this will not include your first treatment and, as such, this structure tends to work out more expensive. Free consultations are purely a marketing tool.
Fortunately, the number of chiropractors who fall into the bad apple category is very small, and getting smaller. But if you feel your chiropractor has been dishonest or has not acted in your best interests the GCC are always on your side.