Regulators focus on claims made by chiropractors

Australia’s regulators are focused on advertising that makes claims about the benefits of chiropractic care when these may not be supported by sufficient evidence.

The core role of Chiropractic Board of Australia and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is to protect the public and manage risk to patients.

The ACCC is now considering a number of referrals from AHPRA, as the ACCC has different powers under Australian Consumer Law.

Health regulators are also assessing cases against chiropractors for alleged false and misleading advertising, ahead of possible prosecution in the magistrates’ court.

One of the ways that the Board protects the public is by acting on complaints about advertising under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, AHPRA.

AHPRA and the Board have adopted an educative approach to dealing with most advertising breaches and possible statutory offences, which has dealt effectively with the vast majority of less serious complaints.

If the practitioner fails to amend or remove their advertising, the Board considers and often takes possible disciplinary action – either for breaches of professional conduct under the National Law or for a statutory offence, which can be prosecuted through the magistrates’ court.

In dealing with advertising breaches by chiropractors, AHPRA has had discussions with the ACCC about matters which might raise concerns under Australian Consumer Law, which also prohibits false or misleading representations.

While most matters are effectively dealt with by health regulators under the National Law, the ACCC has agreed to explore a small number of matters which appear to be more serious or involve corporate chiropractic practices.

The Board and AHPRA are not able to comment on individual matters that are now underway to maintain the integrity of these processes. Of the 10 cases referred to health regulators by Professor Ken Harvey in September 2015:

  • AHPRA has raised three matters with the ACCC
  • Four are subject to ongoing regulatory action (either disciplinary action by the Board or assessment for possible statutory offence prosecution) and
  • Three cases were closed after the advertising was amended to comply with the law.

Downloads