Assessing adverse events after chiropractic care at a chiropractic teaching clinic: an active-surveillance pilot study

Publication type
Journal article
Pohlman KA, Funabashi M, Ndetan H, Hogg-Johnson S, Bodnar P, Kawchuk G
Date published
2020 Aug 01
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Open Access?

Objective: This study aimed to assess the feasibility of implementing an active-surveillance reporting system within a chiropractic teaching clinic and subsequently determining the frequency of adverse events (AEs) after treatment administered by chiropractic interns. Methods: Interns were invited to collect data from patients using 3 questionnaires that recorded patient symptom change: 2 completed by the patient (before and 7 days after treatment) and 1 completed by the intern (immediately after treatment). Worsened and new symptoms were considered AEs. Qualitative interviews were conducted with clinicians and interns to assess the feasibility of implementing the reporting system, with resulting data categorized under 4 domains: acceptability, implementation, practicality, and integration. Results: Of the 174 eligible interns, 80 (46.0%) collected data from 364 patient encounters, with 119 (32.7%) returning their posttreatment form. Of the 89 unique patients (mean age = 39.5 years; 58.4% female, 41.6% male), 40.1% presented with low back pain and 31.1% with neck pain. After treatment, 25 symptoms (8.9%) were identified as AEs, mostly reported by patients as worsening discomfort or pain. Data from qualitative interviews suggest that the AE reporting system was well accepted; however, proposed specific modifications include use of longitudinal electronic surveys. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that it is feasible to conduct an active-surveillance reporting system at a chiropractic teaching clinic. Important barriers and facilitators were identified and will be used to inform future work regarding patient safety education and research.