Background: Adverse events are commonly observed in all parts of health care and have been reported extensively following manual therapy, including chiropractic. The majority of reported adverse events following chiropractic care are mild, transitory and self-limiting. However, little is known about patient filed compensation claims related to the chiropractic consultation process. The aim of this study was to describe claims reported to the Danish Patient Compensation Association and the Norwegian System of Compensation to Patients related to chiropractic from 2004 to 2012.
Methods: All finalized compensation claims involving chiropractors reported to one of the two associations between 2004 and 2012 were assessed for age, gender, type of complaint, decisions and appeals. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the study population.
Results: 338 claims were registered in Denmark and Norway between 2004 and 2012 of which 300 were included in the analysis. 41 (13.7%) were approved for financial compensation. The most frequent complaints were worsening of symptoms following treatment (n = 91, 30.3%), alleged disk herniations (n = 57, 19%) and cases with delayed referral (n = 46, 15.3%). A total financial payment of €2,305,757 (median payment €7,730) were distributed among the forty-one cases with complaints relating to a few cases of cervical artery dissection (n = 11, 5.7%) accounting for 88.7% of the total amount.
Conclusion: Chiropractors in Denmark and Norway received approximately one compensation claim per 100.000 consultations. The approval rate was low across the majority of complaint categories and lower than the approval rates for general practioners and physiotherapists. Many claims can probably be prevented if chiropractors would prioritize informing patients about the normal course of their complaint and normal benign reactions to treatment.
Keywords: Adverse events; Chiropractic; Compensation claims; Manual therapy; Side effects.