14 Jul 2007 06:09 pm

Whatever Happened to Courtesy?

This is a story of comparisons.

It’s also a story about professional conduct, ethical standards and common courtesy.

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If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I recently wrote a silly little bit about a particularly odd email I received one particularly odd day that I jokingly refer to as “Dumb Day.”

And it occurs to me that some may not fully appreciate the circumstances behind that post or understand the manner in which I chose to approach it. Perhaps you think I was being mean-spirited.

Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll appreciate:

  • Why I was offended by the email in question
  • Why I didn’t respond to that email
  • Why I decided to expose what appeared to be an attempt to harm me

Let’s start by making some comparisons.

The First Comparison:

I can only write from my personal experience, but the first thing I would like to do is compare what I see as the difference between real medical doctors and chiropractors when it comes to professional conduct and ethical standards.

Over the past four years I have received a number of emails from chiropractors that I would classify as nothing but malicious hate mail. In this latest incident, I received no less than six emails altogether from the chiropractic office in question (two before I ever wrote the article) which contained the following elements:

  1. False accusations
  2. Harassment
  3. Threats
  4. Intimidation
  5. Badgering
  6. Derision

Throughout the entire incident, from beginning to end, I was never once treated with courtesy or anything resembling professional conduct.

On the other hand, the correspondence that I have received from real doctors and other medical professionals has always involved:

  1. Courtesy
  2. Respect
  3. Positive Feedback
  4. Constructive criticism

Which brings me to…

The Second Comparison:

What can you expect to receive in correspondence from a medical doctor?

Whenever I receive correspondence from a medical doctor they always pay me the courtesy of introducing themselves and informing me that they are, in fact, a medical doctor. They usually will also inform me of their specialty such as surgeon, family practitioner, neurologist and so on.

I have never received a single negative comment — let alone anything even resembling hate mail — from a medical doctor. And frankly, I would be shocked if I did.

For the most part, medical doctors are known for having a very keen sense of professional ethics and for maintaining the highest level of personal and professional conduct.

Chiropractors, on the other hand, are another story.

Take the first cryptic email I received from this chiropractic office.

Did she take the time to introduce herself? Did she let me know she was a doctor of chiropractic? Did she explain why I was receiving a cryptic letter from her office?

No.

She did not introduce herself. She did not state her profession. She did not state the nature of her intentions or why she was contacting me. It contained no introduction whatsoever.

There was no explanation as to why I was receiving this correspondence under the name in which it was sent. There was no explanation as to why this anonymous person, “Jim” was being allowed to represent or send correspondence from her office.

It was clearly from a doctor’s office… and yet it appeared to be written by a patient.

I had to do a search on the Internet in order to discover who these people were and that they were, in fact, chiropractors.

From my perspective as the recipient, there were only two possible conclusions at which I could arrive. Either it was from a doctor posing as a patient… or from a patient posing as a doctor.

But the real red flag was the question posed to me by this anonymous person who called himself “Jim.”

“Why…do I need to be worried about using her and this machine, and why?”

Now those of you who are medical professionals probably recognize the danger lurking within that question. But the casual observer might not see the implications had I been foolish enough to answer it.

The way the question is worded whoever wrote it was trying to get me to give advice about a doctor I’ve never met and that I know nothing about.

I recognized it immediately as a possible attempt at entrapment.

What I saw was just another malicious chiropractor attempting to trick me into giving medical advice to one of his or her patients. It appeared to be nothing less than a clumsy and ridiculous attempt to lure me into breaking the law.

At the very least, they appeared to be trying to get something – anything — they could use against me.

It didn’t work. In fact, it blew up in their face.

I saw through it immediately. I considered it an insult to my intelligence and I chose to turn the tables on whoever wrote it and expose them as a warning to all chiropractors seeking to harm me in any fashion.

The damage this person has done to their reputation is permanent.

If you do an Internet search for “Disc Decompression of Delaware” you will notice that my article comes up in the top search results right next to their listings. That article will probably be there forever.

They will have that as a constant reminder that they (allegedly) tried to harm another human being. If I am mistaken and it was not an attempt to entrap me, then it will stand as a constant reminder that this doctor failed to conduct herself in a professional manner.

In either event, she did it to herself.

To this day, she doesn’t think she did anything wrong. She is still angry. She still blames me for her lack of courtesy and professional conduct.

*****

I suggest that all you chiropractors out there… if you’re going to pretend to be a doctor… you might want to start acting like the real McCoy.

You might want to start by learning something about professional conduct, ethical standards and common courtesy.

If you’re going to write to someone… and you have an honest and sincere question that you would like an answer to… I suggest that you identify yourself and that you don’t put someone else’s return address on it.

If you screw up in front of a journalist, chances are he’s going to write about it and more than likely you aren’t going to like the results.

*****

So, was I just being mean to these people who appeared to be trying to entrap me? Was I mean to this anonymous (and possibly fictitious) person named “Jim” who I believe tried to harm me? Was I wrong to turn the tables and expose their ridiculous little charade?

No, I don’t think so. All I did was give them a little slap on the wrist. All I did was write a silly little comedy sketch that illustrated exactly what happened.

Keep in mind that I did not initiate contact with them. They came after me. If I was mean and vindictive there is a lot more I could do. But I never had any interest in harming these people. Everything that happened… was a result of their actions.

I had nothing to do with it.

*****

This incident should serve as a very kind and gentle warning to all the chiropractors out there foolishly looking to get even with me simply because I publish information.

If you’re half as smart as you keep proclaiming to be… you would do well to count the cost. Before you attempt to come after me… ask yourself if it’s worth ruining your reputation over… possibly destroying your entire business… and maybe your entire future.

*****

For what it’s worth:

I do not diagnose patients. I do not treat patients. I never give medical advice. And the last thing I would ever do is advise any individual to stop seeing their doctor. Who you see or don’t see is none of my concern.

I confine my activities to researching and writing books and articles. I leave the practice of medicine and the treatment of patients to the medical professionals.

Which brings me to…

One Final Comparison:

I said at the beginning this was a story about comparisons. Well, we’ve seen how chiropractors act… now, if anyone’s interested, here’s what I never do:

  1. I never send email to chiropractors (let alone hate mail)
  2. I don’t post messages in their forums
  3. I don’t visit their offices or interfere with their work
  4. I don’t harass their patients
  5. I don’t harass, intimidate or threaten them
  6. I don’t try to shut down or interfere with their websites
  7. I don’t interfere with their First Amendment right to publish information
  8. I don’t attempt to badger or bait them into pointless debates
  9. I don’t attempt to entrap them into doing something illegal or embarrassing
  10. I don’t attempt to violate their civil rights

I don’t think it’s too much to ask to expect the same courtesy in return.

– Dean

*****

Related Links:

Disc Decompression Under Investigation

A Question of Integrity

Don’t I Need a Chiropractor?

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10 Responses to “Whatever Happened to Courtesy?”

  1. on 14 Jul 2007 at 8:19 pm 1.#1 Dinosaur said …

    I have a very good (smart) friend who is a chiropractor, although he calls himself a “frustrated physiatrist” (rehab specialist.) He doesn’t do x-rays or adjustments, or diagnose subluxations. He mainly does physical medicine using modalities like heat and massage.

    If for whatever reason you happened into correspondence with him, you would find him extremely courteous and respectful. Then again, you’d never find him pushing the kind of nonsense you hear from most chiropractors. I don’t think there are many more like him out there, but I will maintain my default posture of respect, just in case.

    I applaud your approach, BTW.

  2. on 15 Jul 2007 at 12:43 am 2.Dean said …

    I’ve heard tales of the elusive “good” chiropractor… but so far the evidence has been purely anecdotal. 🙂

  3. on 15 Jul 2007 at 7:34 am 3.Clark said …

    Ah yes, the elusive rational chiropractor. I saw one once on a episode of Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom as a child I think. Or was that an evidence based naturopath. I’m not sure. Actually a better comparison is to Bigfoot. For years I have also heard and read about the reform movement that is supposedly afoot in the world of chiropractic. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    As you might imagine, I’ve received more than my fair share of correspondence from chiropractors and 99% of it was just like you describe. The 1% was quite refreshing. I disagreed with the guy but at least he was nice. I once spent an afternoon with a chiropractor to discuss his thoughts on pediatric chiropractic. He was extremely polite and likeable. He was practicing dangerous health fraud and was deceptively anti-vaccination but he did it like a gentleman.

    If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest “Inside Chiropractic” by Samuel Homola.

  4. on 15 Jul 2007 at 8:39 am 4.A Patient who is definitely not Dr. Rob said …

    I would…uh…like to know what you think of these medical bloggers. They say they are real doctors, but they seem kind of nerdy. Take, for instance, that Dr. Bartram. I have it on good authority that he masquerades as the mayor of a town in Nebraska. How can I trust these guys.

    What do you think?

  5. on 15 Jul 2007 at 1:32 pm 5.Spooner Jenkins said …

    Really? What town? Hebron? No, I bet it’s Strang. Those folks are up to no good in Strang.

  6. on 16 Jul 2007 at 5:26 pm 6.Dean said …

    Patient who is definitely not Dr. Rob: Everyone knows that medical bloggers are just shills for the Big Pharma/Government conspiracy.

    Who do you think pays for all those free blogs? Google? Right… think again.

    If it were not for the philanthropic efforts of selfless heroes such as Kelvin Trusseau the medical establishment would soon suppress all the natural cures they don’t want us to know.

    Spooner Jenkins: I and the 4 other people living in Ozark, Misery would like to salute the fine folks of Belvidere, Nebraska. Our motto has always been, “Keep them kids workin’ and outta trouble.”

  7. on 17 Jul 2007 at 4:11 pm 7.kate said …

    I have ALWAYS been skeptical of chiropractors and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I went. I’ve heard many negative things about them over the years and always wondered why people went to them, which is probaby for the same reason I went (albeit ONLY one time): to seek relief from my back pain.

    The day I went for my appointment to see the chiro, I had just gotten out of the suri-center for an epidural steroid injection. I was in a great deal of pain, as the anesthesiologist had some difficulties because of where the injection needed to be done.

    I told the chiro that I did NOT want to have manipulation done on my back and that I just there for a consult. He immediately sent me back for modalities – two of which I couldn’t do because I was in a great deal of pain.

    I haven’t been back since and that was last Thursday. Since then, I received 5 calls: On Friday I received a call asking if I’d be there and I told them I’d already called so say I wouldn’t be in. Yesterday I had one call from the pain center. I never picked up my phone. Later that evening, the “doctor” called me himself, and while reading your blog, the pain center called again.

    I’m already dreading the conversation I have to have with them.

    Incidentally, the day I was in the chiro’s office, I was given a booklet for a neurosurgeon in Philadelphia. It’s for Vax-D. I have an appointment with them for 6/25, but I will be cancelling before then.

    Thank you for ALL the information you’ve provided here on your blog. It’s fantastic.

    I will be back to read very, very soon.

    Kate

  8. on 17 Jul 2007 at 10:48 pm 8.Dean said …

    Hi Kate,

    I’m glad you were able to stop by. My door is always open.

    (Well, everybody’s door is always open… that’s the great thing about the Internet… we never close.) 🙂

    It’s getting late and I’m getting loopy. It’s been a long day. If you get a chance, check out the forum. Ken (screen name “krd”) has some good posts on his experience with epidural injections. They really helped him with his sciatica battle.

    Take care,
    Dean

  9. on 19 Jul 2007 at 5:06 am 9.Kim said …

    I took care of a patient that had a brain stem CVA the same day he had cervical manipulation by a chiropractor. Scared the heck out of me – I’ve never been able to shake that image from my mind. Whether it was cause:effect, I don’t know.

    Some people swear by them. As for me, I find if I exercise my lower back pain goes away. And I have fun while I’m doing it! : )

  10. on 19 Jul 2007 at 11:46 am 10.Dean said …

    Hi Kim,

    I consider myself lucky that I survived all those years of neck manipulation. Knowing what I know now, I would never let another chiropractor touch me. It’s not worth the risk.

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