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Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

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anonnymouse
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Chiropractors call themselves 'Doctor' even though they are NOT registered medical practitioners. In my opinion, this is unethical, cynical, and potentially dangerous.

They claim it is merely a 'courtesy title', but I believe it is deliberately misleading. They know perfectly well that the lay public will naturally assume (wrongly) that they are medically registered practitioners when they call themselves Doctor, since they work in the field of healthcare.The titleendows them with a status by which their reputation is falsely enhanced, and they benefit from this commercially.

Physiotherapists and osteopaths do not call themselves 'Doctor', since they do not wish their patients to be misled, and this is enforced by their regulation. This is the correct ethical position.

It is very serious that a patient might misunderstand a chiropractor to be a registered medical doctor when they are not. This does indeed happen- a lot. I should like to invite users of this forum to indicate whether they assumed their chiropractor to be a medical doctor because of their use of the title Doctor.

The historic tradition of using this 'courtesy' title must be stopped. It is misrepesentation, and a blight on the profession of chiropractic.

82 Replies
Angel Boy
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

.

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pauline
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Anyone with a PHD can call themselves Dr, while people may get confused about this and other ways the title can be used I would hope that people would be sensible enough, if going for a treatment, to check out people's credentials and make sure they are getting the treatment by someone who is qualified to administer it.

Pauline

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Thank you for your reply, Angel Boy.

It is not a question of whether a chiropractor may legally call himself ‘Doctor’, by any definition of the term- it is a question of whether he should.

The issue is whether a patient might wrongly perceive a chiropractor to be a medical doctor.

If your hairdresser called herself Doctor Curls, you wouldn’t necessarily assume her to be a doctor of medicine. If your chiropractor did, you probably would.

In this country, when you say, ‘I am seeing the doctor today,’ it is generally assumed you’re visiting your General Practitioner. The term ‘doctor’ means something very specific to the lay public (unless in the context of collection of fishing lures, apparently!).

Chiropractors understand this etymological association, and enjoy the privilege in status it affords them.

This is wrong, plain and simple.



Have any of you assumed your chiropractor to be a doctor of medicine?




Dear Pauline,

Anyone at all can call themself Doctor. Even Time Lords do it! There is no law which states that you have to have a doctorate in any discipline, or PhD, to be permitted the title 'Doctor'.

You could call yourself Doctor, if you want.

My point is that it is deliberately misleading when chiropractors do it.

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pauline
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

I understand your point completely. The point that I was making is that some people call themselves Dr and have earned that right. I have a friend who has a doctorate in chemistry and calls himself the title as he has the right to do.
Yes I am aware that some people might think that a person who is a chiropractor and calls themselves Dr is a practitioner of general medicine. However, if I was going for a chiropractors services, I wouldnt expect that same person to diagnose me with tonsilitis.
If someone is going for a treatment in whatever therapy and the person calls themselves Dr, the only thing that would worry me is that I wasnt spending my money on someone treating me who wasnt professionally qualified in their field.
And if you really want a treatment from someone who is qualified to give it, then surely as the person receiving it, you should take time to check out whether someone is registered with the appropriate bodies.
You could say the same thing about anyone using the title of alternative medicine. Look at Dr Gillian McKeith. There was a big fuss made about where she studied for her PHD, if I remember correctly there were suggestions that the place in America where she had studied for her PHD were practically giving doctorates away.
The fuss was caused I am sure because when people saw the word Dr, in her title, they assumed that she was a GP.
Its down to us not to assume anything really and I suppose part of this argument/debate is down to regulation.
You are correct, I could call myself anything I wanted, but it would be down to people to check out whether I really was a fit and proper person to be giving out the treatment in the first place.
I have got letters that I could put after my name in day to day life as do many people, I choose not to, I dont see the relevance to my daily life in doing so, but its a matter of personal choice in the end.

Pauline

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear Pauline,

Thank you for your excellent reply.

Funnily enough, I thought Gillian McKeith WAS a G.P.! There you go!

In your case, I am sure this issue must cause no concern- you are evidently intelligent enough to research the qualifications of any practitioner you might visit. I would, too.

However, many potential patients might not. (By the way, I am not wholly convinced that the onus should solely be on the patient to assure themselves of the qualifications of their practitioner- surely this is the point of statutory regulation?)

Patients must be protected from misunderstanding (or deliberate misrepresentation). Legislation exists for this in other disciplines- you cannot call yourself Doctor and practice Medicine in Britain, unless you are registered with the GMC. Osteopaths and physios cannot entitle themselves ‘Doctor’ unless they are medically registered practitioners- this prevents such misunderstanding.
Chiropractors do not exercise this ethical standard. This looks bad, because they are seen to benefit from this.

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Angel Boy
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Moderator's note:

As can be seen from post #2 above, Angel Boy deleted the text from the majority of his posts in this thread. These "blank" posts havenow been removed, except for the one above.Sometexted posts by Angel Boy thatremained have now alsobeen deleted.

We apologise for any disruption to the flow of discussion, which has been kept to the minimum. Angel Boy is no longer a member of HealthyPages.

Holistic
On behalf of the Moderating Team

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pauline
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

I also appreciate the point about regulation and moving slightly off topic here, the sector that I work in is supported housing and here in Scotland we are going to be regulated to bring us in line with sectors such as teaching and nursing.
Yes I can see the reason why this needs to be done, for us to follow appropriate standards.
However, this is going to cause problems, why, because again as always the people making the decisions on who will and who wont be allowed on the register are never going to be completely objective.
If I understand it, what an employer needs to do is write a statement saying that the person is fit to do the job and then this application will be judged and if you are deemed fit to be on the register you will be put on it.
However, what if you are not? One of the questions is, is the employee under any current disciplinary action at the moment.
Again, I fully understand why this question needs to be asked but in my 11 plus years of working in the sector I work in I have seen countless people with good practice be disciplined and others get away with murder.
There is also the issue of disclosures, which are like police checks. Currently when I start a job I need a disclosure done. However, that disclosure is only valid on the day of the check.
So again, you could be in a situation where people have had a disclosure done, have disclosed that they have certain convictions to an employer and then at the point of registration with that body, it becomes an issue.
The 2 things that worry me most about this registration process are, one, if you are deemed not fit to be on the register, you are informed through your employer.
Two, when you are put on it, people can do a search for you on the internet and your details come up and that of where you work.
My mum is a teacher and when I said to her that was the case, she was horrified, she is a member of the GTC but at no time are her details disclosed online.
The point that I am making is you are perfectly correct about needing registration but I think sometimes registration can be a knee jerk reaction to high profile cases where things may have gone wrong and that some people may be affected in the process of the registration.
Obviously my sector and complementary therapies are different but if people who are chiropractors can call themselves Dr and are doing so, the question needs to be asked, how on earth did this come about in the first place and why is there the need for it.
Surely people can just say, I am a qualified chiropractor and be done with it.

Pauline

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear David,

Thanks for your reply- it made me smile!

Actually, I do have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this- I think it is most important, and no laughing matter.

[I do know lots of good jokes though, and would be happy to share some on another thread- just to prove that my energy is getting through to my funny-bone, as it were. My friends say I am hilarious, but this is a serious issue.]

Chiropractors are in a position of responsibility. Their conduct should and must be 'controlled' (as you put it), if their profession is to be afforded respect.

Otherwise they are just dodgy quacks, and should be seen as such.

This is true for all professions in the medical field.

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Pauline, you have hit the nail squarely on the head...

Why on Earth would a chiropractor call himself 'Doctor'?

The only possible reason is the benefit from the status this affords him.

QED.

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pauline
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Well the thing about Gillian Mckeith, it caused a right old hoo ha but did it do her career any harm, of course not.
What would interest me greatly is if Gillian would have had the same interest in her career if she had said, my name is Gillian McKeith and I have a PHD in holistic medicine.
But she called herself Dr McKeith as she is entitled to do with a PHD and I bet many people watched the tv show, bought the book because they thought, she is a Dr, bet she knows what she is talking about.
Lets face it, the tv show is complulsive viewing but in my view, its the same as any organised diet class, it makes people money out of people's misery.
I am not a fan of the diet industry even if this is dressed up as holistic medicine to some degree because at the end of the day people are searching for something looking to be what they want to be and many peoples lives are mixed up in how they look.
However there are usually emotional triggers under there as well and it doesnt matter how many protein shakes or alfafa sprouts you eat, if you are not happy asa size 22 you will not be happy as a size 10.
I think as the complementary therapies grow some people may call themselves Dr or at least dress it up to be something more than it needs be.
Just shows the reverence in which GPs are held in this country.

Pauline

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear Angel Boy,

I don’t know whether I am bleating on about all this- it is obviously important to me, but perhaps I am alone in this. You clearly don’t see this as being particularly worrying- and that is reassuring in a way. However, I am aware that many patients are deceived by this traditional practice of chiropractors, and I think they should be called on it.
I came to this forum because I hoped it would be an appropriate medium to air my concerns, with like-minded health-concerned individuals. I also hoped it might be a means of determining if this is indeed something that I, alone, am concerned about.

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear David,

Whilst I appreciate your response to my posts, and your 'curiosity', I am wondering how strictly relevant your comments are to the topic of this thread. My personal concerns on this matter are as evident as I should like them to be on this forum- you can see I am serious about this. Your levity is charming, but hardly appropriate. My opinions may be ‘strong’ in your view, but they are nonetheless heartfelt, and your attempts to soften them seem rather patronising (to be frank).

When I say that I am aware of ‘many’ patients being deceived by this, I mean ‘many’. As opposed to a few, or a couple, or a huge number. Is the precise number important?

Your struggle to keep ‘a heavy subject Light’ with your ‘advocacy’ is your business, but I should not wish other readers to be distracted from the issue at hand. I am sorry if my seriousness offends, but please understand that I am not here for the fun of it.

This issue matters to me.

If this is a problemfor you, please do not feel obliged to reply.

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kpuk
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

I work in a chirporactic clinic - one of a group of 6. All the practitioners are titled "Doctor of Chiropractic". None of them (As far as I am aware) either pretend to be, or state that they are a GP or otherwise, however, they have all trained to a high level, are all governed by a regulatory body (the GCC) and are entitled to call themselves the above.

Who do you think they are misleading?? People go to a chiropractor for a reason, and if they can help they will, if not they will also tell them that and refer them on to the relevant party. I doubt that anyone sees a chiropractor unless they feel it necessary - we all have a GP if we need one.

Karen

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear Karen,

Thank you for your excellent post.

You have asked who I think chiropractors are misleading by calling themselves ‘Doctor’. The answer is this- anyone who doesn’t realise they are not medical doctors.

The use of the title ‘Doctor’ by chiropractors cannot be justified or defended. It is, by their profession’s admission, merely a ‘courtesy title’, and entirely honorary. It is not a qualification of some doctorate degree, as one might be led to think.

If their use of the title were only ever perceived as ceremonial, there would not be a problem. However, to my certain knowledge, patients do assume and believe that chiropractors are medically registered practitioners (who specialise in chiropractic), because they call themselves ‘Doctor’.

They are inevitably, and in all ignorance, misled by this dubious use of title.

Chiropractors know and understand this.
They trade on it.

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear Dave,

A chiropractor would benefit commercially by calling themselves 'Doctor' by the elevation of status the title bestows upon them.

The lay public has, traditionally, looked up to medical doctors- according respect for the professional reputation and socio-economic position they enjoy in society. Chiropractors have cashed in on this repute, by implicitly permitting the public to associate them with such 'rank' (for want of a more suitable term). The title 'Doctor' engenders a certain image of respect and privilege, which chiropractors take advantage of in their use of it.

Dave, I do not appreciate your sarcasm. I am not quite sure how I must have antagonised you, and apologise for any inadvertent offense, but I should be grateful if you could refrain from such disrespect.

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Holistic
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Angel Boy, there really is no need for sarcasm, so could you please now desist, in line with the forum guidelines on members having the right to expresstheir ideas and beliefswith equal respect and consideration.

Thank you.

Holistic

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Holistic
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Hello anonnymouse and welcome to HP. In your starter post you said:

It is very serious that a patient might misunderstand a chiropractor to be a registered medical doctor when they are not. This does indeed happen- a lot. I should like to invite users of this forum to indicate whether they assumed their chiropractor to be a medical doctor because of their use of the title Doctor.

I should be interested to know if there is a particular reason for your request, although I cannot personally say that I've ever made any such assumption because I've never consulted a chiropractor, nor am I one.

I amjust asking as an interested member and moderator of these forums.

Holistic

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Angel Boy
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear Holistic,

Point noted - I'll do my best.

Dx

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Dear Holistic,

Many thanks for your kind posts.

I should be interested to know if there is a particular reason for your request, although I cannot personally say that I've ever made any such assumption because I've never consulted a chiropractor, nor am I one.

I amjust asking as an interested member and moderator of these forums.

Does it really matter, for the sake of this discussion? I should prefer to remain anonymous (hence the pseudonym), for several reasons. Perhaps it may suffice to say that I am personally interested in this issue- and leave it at that.I don't wish to be evasive, but I don't believe the justification of my own position can add much to the actual discussion of the points I have raised thus far.

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Holistic
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Does it really matter, for the sake of this discussion? I should prefer to remain anonymous (hence the pseudonym), for several reasons. Perhaps it may suffice to say that I am personally interested in this issue- and leave it at that. I don't wish to be evasive, but I don't believe the justification of my own position can add much to the actual discussion of the points I have raised thus far.

No, it doesn't really matter.:D I was just curious, that's all, and of course it's your choice whether or not you post anonymously (being careful with the spelling here! ;)) and how much you wish to share. I totally respect that.

Your first post had a kind of official look to it though, to me at any rate. I guess it's down to interpretation, and to others' different posting "styles".

Holistic

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pauline
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Feet? I didnt think that a chiropractor and a chiropodist were the same thing?
My mate went to see a chiropractor because she was having bother with her back/neck.

Pauline

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Moonfairy
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Personally I don't think it matters what the 'labels' are, but it is the RESULTS that count.

I have had personal experience of a chiropractor fixing my sciatica problem which I suffered from for well over a year. I was in great pain and very miserable with it. My GP gave me the usual pain-killer/anti-inflammatory tablets and they just didn't work. In fact I was allergic to the first lot of tablets and it caused me a great worry when I came out in a rash all over my body after 10 days.

My pain was only alleviated by going to a chiropractor. I am delighted to say I was cured in 3 months, when I was despairing I would have this depressing and painfulcondition for life.

So I think the best way is a) try your GP first and then b) of it doesn't work, then try a chiropractor. And I don't care what they want to call themselves, so long as they fix my problem, which they did with great success. I certainly didn't expect the chiropractor to be a medical practioner as such.

Just my experience and opinion. 😉

Moonfairy
x

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Holistic
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Feet? I didnt think that a chiropractor and a chiropodist were the same thing?

They are not the same thing, Pauline.

Chiropractic is a primary health-care profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and overall management of conditions that are due to problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons and nervesof the body, particularly those of the spine.

Treatment consists of a wide range of manipulative techniques designed to improve the function of the joints, relieving pain and muscle spasm.
Chiropractic does not involve the use of any drugs or surgery

.

Source:
[link= http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/default.aspx?m=3&mi=3&title=About+Chiropractic] http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/default.aspx?m=3&mi=3&title=About+Chiropractic [/link]
Website of the British Chiropractic Association.

Itdoes appear fromhis postthat Angel Boy is not aware of the difference, or alternativelyperhaps he was posting with his tongue in his cheek, so I wouldn't worry about it 😉

Holistic

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Holistic
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Thanks for sharing, moonfairy, and my apologies. I hadn't seen your post as I was off gathering a quotable definition of chiropracticfor Pauline.

Holistic

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pauline
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

I think really what might be the issue is personal, what I mean by that is that some people might use the title of doctor to try and mislead and others wont, trial and error is everything.
I have had experiences not with chiropractors but with reiki where I paid for training and I really wasnt impressed, what I did after that was shop around and find someone who suited my needs better.

Pauline

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Moonfairy
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

ORIGINAL: Holistic

Thanks for sharing, moonfairy, and my apologies. I hadn't seen your post as I was off gathering a quotable definition of chiropracticfor Pauline.

Holistic

No worries. [sm=1kis.gif]

Moonfairy
xx

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'


Thank you for all your posts, above. I am glad that you have been able to enlighten Dave on the difference between chiropody and chiropractic. A perfectly understandable error- one of my friends is a paediatrician, and he is regularly having to explain the absolute dichotomy of that and paedophilia.

Moonfairy, thank you especially for your post- this is exactly what I was looking for on this forum. It is good to see that your own experience with your chiropractor was so positive, and that you are not bothered by this 'Doctor' title issue. I am glad you are 'cured'.

Holistic, just to assure you, I am in no way acting in any official capacity with my interest in this matter. I am sorry if my language gave that impression- I do have a formal style of writing. This is, however, a genuinely personal issue for me.

It may be that the business of chiropractors calling themselves 'Doctors' is of no great concern to anyone but me. I have my own reasons for worrying about this, but my intent in visiting this forum is to determine if any of its users felt the same way. So far, we have one post (from Moonfairy, above) which answers this question- in the negative. This is reassuring.

I am still very keen to hear from any other patients who might or might not have assumed that their chiropractor was a medical doctor, or indeed from any others interested in healthcare who had made that assumption.

Do we agree that there is a potential for serious consequences if a patient visited a chiropractor, believing them to be a medical doctor when they weren't? In my mind, this potential for harm to that patient makes this (ceremonial and totally unnecessary) tradition wholly unethical (albeit not actally illegal). The patient might easily assume the chiropractor to have the same training and qualification as any doctor of medicine, simply because they give themselves that title.

This assumption could potentially be dangerous for the patient, couldn't it? Not everyone has the discretion and wisdom of all the users of this website- many patients have limited intelligence, learning difficulties, or have other cognitive impairment, dementia, etc., etc.

These patients should be protected from any possible misunderstanding resulting from this use of title 'Doctor' by chiropractors.

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Holistic
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

Hello anonnymouse,

Holistic, just to assure you, I am in no way acting in any official capacity with my interest in this matter. I am sorry if my language gave that impression- I do have a formal style of writing. This is, however, a genuinely personal issue for me.

Thanks for the clarification, and there's no need to apologise for your "language" ... you write very succinctly. 🙂

This assumption could potentially be dangerous for the patient, couldn't it? Not everyone has the discretion and wisdom of all the users of this website- many patients have limited intelligence, learning difficulties, or have other cognitive impairment, dementia, etc., etc.

These patients should be protected from any possible misunderstanding resulting from this use of title 'Doctor' by chiropractors.

Forgive me for asking a possibly facile question, but would these patients not already be protected by others suchas carers, whether family or official?

Holistic

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anonnymouse
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RE: Unethical use of title 'Doctor'

DearHolistic,

would these patients not already be protected by others suchas carers, whether family or official?


Yes, very likely they would (not at all facile- very pertinent). But do you see the point I am trying to make? I am sure visitors to this forum are well informed and literate, with a good understanding of these complicated issues relating to practitioners’ qualifications, etc.

However, I know plenty of lay-people who are less well informed, and who may not realise their chiropractor, Dr Bloggs, is not actually a registered medical practitioner at all, but someone with a BSc in Chiropractic who calls himself ‘Doctor’. There is a difference!

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