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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Colorado Physicians Take on Chiropractors

DENVER (CN) - The Colorado Medical Society sued the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners, challenging its attempt to authorize chiropractors to give drugs by injection, inhalation and other means.

The Colorado Medical Society, "whose more than 7,000 members include the majority of physicians practicing in Colorado," is joined by a dozen other regional and statewide medical groups in it its complaint in Denver County Court.

The complaint states: "The Board of Chiropractic Examiners has exceeded its statutory authority to regulate the practice of chiropractic by seeking to authorize chiropractors to administer drugs through topical, oral, inhalation and injection. Plaintiffs ask the court to enjoin the enactment of [the Chiropractic Board's] Rule 9(c) to protect the public welfare and prevent irreparable injury to the members of [the 13 plaintiff organizations], and the patients they serve."

Rule 7(c) of the Chiropractors Board Rules and Regulations states: "A doctor of chiropractic may administer, prescribe, recommend, compound, sell and distribute homeopathic and botanical medicines, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, glandular extracts, non-prescription drugs, durable and non-durable medical goods and devices."

The Medical Society claims that Rule 7(c) violates state law, which distinguished between "the practice of medicine" and chiropractors.

"The General Assembly has ... specifically limited the practice of chiropractic to not infringe upon the practice of medicine: 'Such license shall not confer upon the licensee the right to practice surgery or obstetrics or to prescribe, compound or administer drugs, or to administer anesthetics,'" the complaint states.

The Medical Society claims the Board of Chiropractic Examiners has no authority to allow its members to inject drugs.

"The Colorado General Assembly's delegation of limited rule-making authority to defendant does not include authority to authorize the administration of drugs or the use of subcutaneous injections by chiropractors," the complaint states.

The physicians claim that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers agrees, that he "issued his opinion that Rule 7(c) exceeds the legislative scope of authority granted to the Board of Chiropractic Examiners."

The Board of Chiropractic Examiners acknowledged on its website that counsel for the Colorado General Assembly opposes the rule.

"Now Legal Legislative Services has also found that this rule change regarding injectables is beyond the scope of authority of the Board of Chiropractic Examiners," the board said on its website. "There is a hearing set on January 8, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 0112 of the Capitol building where the public is welcome to testify as to why the rule should be considered proper or improper."

The Board said that the "effective date" of Rule 7(c) has been delayed until April 30, "to allow the Legislature an opportunity to rule on whether the rule is proper."

Joining as plaintiffs are the Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine, Clear Creek Valley Medical Society, Weld County Medical Society, Aurora-Adams County Medical Society, Denver Medical Society, Mesa County Medical Society, Colorado Chapter of America College of Emergency Physicians, Colorado Radiological Society, Boulder County Medical Society, Larimer County Medical Society, and the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists.

They seek judicial review of an agency action, declaratory relief and an injunction.

They are represented by John Conklin with Martin Conklin and Colorado Medical Society staff attorney Susan Koontz.

Physicians and chiropractors have waged a long war, exceeded in bitterness perhaps only by their common war against insurers. Although chiropractors are allowed to call themselves "doctors," they are not medical doctors.

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