[Originally published as Anti-vaccine chiropractors
redux 14 – helping the AVN scare and misinform]
Immunisation is a healthcare topic which is outside of the scope of practise for Australian chiropractors. Even the evidence-challenged Chiropractors’ Association of Australia was forced kicking and screaming into making a non-committal policy declaration on the subject, in 2013:
CAA Position Statement on Vaccination
The CAA (National) Board position on vaccination is:
- Chiropractors do not provide vaccination services;
- Chiropractors should encourage their patients to make informed health care decisions and to consult their GP in relation to the risks and benefits of vaccination.
– May 4, 2013 CAA National Board Meeting
Chiropractors – like all registered health practitioners – must behave themselves on social media. The Chiropractic Board of Australia’s Social Media Policy states:
When using social media, health practitioners should remember that the National Law, their National Board’s code of ethics and professional conduct (the Code of conduct) and the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services (the Advertising guidelines) apply.
Registered health practitioners should only post information that is not in breach of these obligations by:
- complying with professional obligations
- complying with confidentiality and privacy obligations (such as by not discussing patients or posting pictures of procedures, case studies, patients, or sensitive material which may enable patients to be identified without having obtained consent in appropriate situations
- presenting information in an unbiased, evidence-based context, and
- not making unsubstantiated claims.
The Chiropractic Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct states:
2.2 Good practice
Maintaining a high level of professional competence and conduct is essential for the good practice of the profession. Good practice involves:
a. recognising and working within the limits of the chiropractor’s competence and scope and area of practice, which may change over time
b. maintaining adequate knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care, including providing treatment/care and advice and where relevant, arranging investigations and liaising with, or referring to, other health professionals
g. providing treatment/care options based on the best available information and practising in an evidence-based context and not being influenced by financial gain or incentives
h. ensuring that services offered are provided with the best possible skill, care and competence
m. ensuring that the chiropractor’s personal views do not adversely affect the care of their patients, and
n. evaluating practice and the decisions made and action taken in providing good care.
The Code of Conduct continues:
6.4 Public health matters
Chiropractors have a responsibility to promote the health of the community through disease prevention and control, education and, where relevant, screening.
On any public health matter, practitioners are obliged to provide balanced, unbiased and evidence-based information in order to enable members of the public to make informed health decisions. When called upon to provide advice that is beyond their usual area of practice, chiropractors should seek to refer those patients to another practitioner who possess such expertise.
Good practice involves:
a. understanding the principles of public health, including health education, health promotion, disease prevention, and control and screening
b. participating in efforts to promote the health of the community and being aware of obligations in disease prevention, including screening and reporting notifiable diseases where relevant, and
c. carrying out health activities in a public setting in accordance with the National Board’s attached guidelines (see Appendix 1: Guideline in relation to health activities in a public setting).
The Guidelines for advertising regulated health services – to which we will come, when investigating today’s subject’s business website – are governed by The National Law. That is, it is against the law to breach these guidelines:
Section 133 of the National Law regulates advertising of regulated health services. It states:
- A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way
a. is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive; or
b. offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer; or
c. uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business; or
d. creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment; or
e. directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
a. in the case of an individual—$5,000; or
b. in the case of a body corporate—$10,000.
I have never seen any fines issued for breaches of The National Law.
Panetta came to our attention when he was holding court on the Facebook page of the disgraced anti-vaccination organisation, the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, on November 8 2015. Meryl Dorey posted a home-made flyer which showed the anti-vaccination organisation for what it really is; anti-vaccine:
Now THIS is real cocooning! A family put this on their door for the first month home from hospital with bubs. According to them, it started a lot of respectful conversations and helped their friends and family become better-informed about vaccination. Well done!
Of course, being an anti-vaccine inspired flyer it completely misrepresents the almost non-existent occurrence of vaccine shedding into a typical anti-vaccine fright-meme. Panetta comments underneath the image (as you can see, hovering over his name immediately brings up his trade and business name):
Matt Panetta 6 weeks only covers the live virus vaccines that have the propensity to shed. Should also keep your child away from those vaccinated for pertussis in the last 2 years or more. If the vaccine affords any protection, it is only against the symptoms. The vaccinated still colonize the bacteria and transmit whooping cough. This is the sole reason for a resurgence in pertussis.
But, this is not the first time Panetta has misinformed readers or displayed anti-vaccine hysteria on the AVN Facebook page.
On April 30 2015 Panetta joined in with the delusional AVN admin, Giselle Tonee, in a complete strawman based on the SB277 legislation which succeeded in California:
A possibility for Australia? Along with 300 new vaccines for all your medical conditions -but its all for the public good. And you cannot sue us when your family is damaged. TG
Matt Panetta Medical Fascism!
On April 14 Panetta added some awful comments to another unsubstantiated anti-vaccine story of alleged vaccine harm:
Matt Panetta So when there is a death from pertussis the media and astroturfers have a field day. An opportunistic moment of convenience to slander and blame conscientious objectors! Yet when a death occurs from a vaccine, the suppression of the event and lack of support is nothing short of inhumane.
On April 14 Panetta joined in with more AVN scaremongering; one of Meryl Dorey’s infamous action alerts regarding the proposed No Jab No Pay legislation:
Matt Panetta democratic or draconian society? Heading toward the latter!
On September 12 we find that Panetta has liked this AVN post full of discredited claims, which includes a video from the thoroughly disreputable Sherri Tenpenny:
This is a brilliant video – well referenced and incredibly important. If you have only 10 minutes to spare today, spend them watching this. And then, share it with all of those you care about. Your friends, your family, your children, your workmates. It is up to us to be the messengers. Vaccine harm is real. Vaccines deaths and profound injuries do occur. Vaccines do cause autism. If they are angry with you today for sharing this information, they will remember you tried to help them sometime in the future when they, one of their children or a friend’s child is affected by vaccination and the doctors say it was a coincidence. Can you live with yourself if you don’t take this opportunity to share?
Astonishing that Panetta would like this video:
On September 13 Panetta joined in with a screed from Meryl Dorey, attacking Dr Richard Kidd of the Australian Medical Association (QLD), as well as attacking the safety and efficacy of public immunisation programs:
Who do you think you’re Kidd-ing? How much does your doctor REALLY know about vaccines. Some scary info here
Matt Panetta Typical pompous attitude doctors have! Disturbing that this represents the majority of vaccine administers. Ignorant of the facts and dismissive of the harm caused. They can’t for a second entertain the notion that inefficacies and major safety issues exist. It is just way too inconvenient. They run on faith and very little real science! Sacrilegious to say the least!
Turning to Panetta’s business website we can see the sorts of non-evidence-based claims he makes about his health service provision. I argue that most of these claims are a clear breach of The National Law and the Code of Conduct:
Chiropractic for Children
The spine can sustain it’s first trauma at birth. Damage can occur by pulling, forcing and twisting of the delicate infants spine during delivery. Modern procedures such as forceps and vacuum extraction can also place tremendous pressure on the spine.
Lacking the ability to express these spinal traumas many newborns will experience health complaints such as colic, reflux, breastfeeding difficulties, sleep disturbances, allergic reactions and chronic infections.
…a chiropractic examination is essential to determine if birth trauma to the spine is involved.
I argue that some of these claims are also a clear breach of The National Law and the Code of Conduct:
Common Conditions that Respond to Chiropractic
- Low back pain and leg pain/numbness
- Neck and arm pain/numbness including tennis elbow and carpal tunnel
- Tension, migraine and cluster headaches
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bed wetting
- Ear infections
- Sinus conditions
- Allergies and asthma
- Stomach disorders such as reflux and gastritis
- Menstrual conditions
- Pains of pregnancy including morning sickness
- Extremities and sports injuries
I would also argue that this advertisement, embedded and linked on Panetta’s website, contains implicit testimonials and is therefore also a breach of The National Law:
One day these blog posts will no longer be required. It will occur at a time when the Chiropractic Board of Australia takes meaningful, transparent, and substantial action – in accordance with The National Law and its Code of Conduct – so as to rein in these rogue public health menaces. I will not hold my breath.