Why Choose Association Doctors? - The Chiropractic Association
Monday, March 17 2014 THENEWPAPER
THENEWPAPER Monday, March 17 2014
wants regulation in the
industry, but authorities say
self-regulation is enough
She pays $120 for
Reports by KOH HUI THENG
Regulate us, says The
(Singapore) honorary secretary
Janet Sosna. But the Ministry
of Health (MOH) said selfregulation is enough. The reason:
Chiropractic is an alternative
medicine. The New Paper looks at
WHY IS THE INDUSTRY
Ms Janet Sosna: It is self-regulated,
meaning chiropractors volunteer to
meet the association’s code of ethics
There are about 100 chiropractors
in Singapore, with many abiding by
the highest professional standards.
The problem arises when some
chiropractors opt for a marketingbased business model, hire
consultants and use fear to pressure
customers to sign up for packages.
We’ve voiced concerns about
the unethical sale of excessive,
clinically unsubstantiated and prepaid
packages to MOH (Ministry of Health)
since (the problem) first occurred in
the late 1990s.
Number of complaints
against chiropractic services
last year, up from 7 in 2012.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH:
CUSTOMERS DO THEN?
Ms Sosna: Members of the public
are advised to seek their care from
an association member, as this is the
only guarantee of receiving care that
meets international standards.
We have a strict policy for the
sale of prepaid packages, with a
12-treatment limit (the number is
substantiated in chiropractic-medical
Complaints against members
would be dealt with through a
disciplinary procedure. Offenders
will be warned and could be expelled
from the association. (But we have)
no jurisdiction over non-members.
HAS THE ASSOCIATION
Ms Sosna: We’ve met several times
with the director of medical services
for traditional and complementary
medicine at MOH. We’ve also brought
in overseas experts from the United
States and Australia to present
education and practice standards.
(But) our pleas appear to have
fallen on deaf ears.
Our profession will be regulated
quickly if it is deemed to be causing
harm to the public but we’ve been
told financial harm did not count.
WHY DOESN’T MOH REGULATE
arises when some
for a marketingbased business
and use fear
customers to sign
up for packages.
— The Chiropractic
honorary secretary Janet
MOH: Chiropractic is a form of complementary
and alternative medicine. Hence, chiropractors
are not registered medical practitioners or TCM
(traditional Chinese medicine) practitioners.
Although not statutorily regulated,
chiropractors are subject to laws from other
regulations eg. Medicines Act, Sale of Drugs
Act, Poisons Act, Business Registration Act and
Timm (above) and
Morris said their
clinic in eastern
Singapore has a
full refund policy
if customers are
TNP PHOTO: BENJAMIN
A trip to the chiropractor was
supposed to bring much-needed
relief, but for one lawyer, it turned
into a pain in the neck — literally.
Mr Brian Morris, 36, has spent
three years practising in
Singapore and “makes it very
clear with our clients that we have
a refund policy”.
Singapore (Case) signed
a memorandum of
understanding with The
(Singapore) last July
to protect consumers’
The consumer watchdog’s
executive director, Mr Seah
Seng Choon, gave these tips
to consumers consulting
l Do not be pressurised
into signing a contract
fully what the contract
or treatment entails.
Exerting undue pressure
on a consumer to enter
into a transaction is an
unfair practice under the
(Fair Trading) Act.
l The consumer can simply
leave if he or she feels
pressured to sign up.
l Check the chiropractic
for a list of qualified
chiropractors who have
agreed to adhere to its
code of ethics.
Lawyer Ellen Leong, 71, had a free
screening during a roadshow last October and collected her report five days
The chiropractor, Mr Brian Morris,
advised her to seek treatment.
Ms Leong claimed she was offered
a six-month, 48-session package for
$2,700 upfront or a four-month package costing $950 a month.
“I asked to try a session as I was not
prepared to commit for six months, but
was told there was no such scheme,” Ms
“But I was previously quoted $85 for a
single session at the roadshow.”
She paid $950 for eight treatments.
That worked out to be almost $120 per
Ms Leong claimed the first session
lasted five minutes while the second
session was over in two minutes.
“He actually hurt the left side of my
neck during the second session,” she alleged.
Upset, she consulted her MP and
lodged a report with the Small Claims
Tribunal in November.
She received a full refund the following month.
If for any reason customers are dissatisfied, Mr Morris would refer them to other chiropractors.
“Otherwise, we’re happy to give a refund. We try to be clear and upfront
about what clients can expect from the
start,” said Mr Morris, who received his
chiropractic qualifications from the US.
Customers tend to get upset when
they do not see improvements as quickly as hoped, he said.
“(So) it’s important to tell them from
the beginning that the problems they’re
suffering from didn’t happen overnight
but developed long-term and long-term
solutions are needed.”
He declined to discuss Ms Leong’s
case, except to say: “I wish she had
come to me directly.”
Was she pressured to buy a package?
“I have no interest in pressuring anyone into doing something they don’t
want to do,” Mr Morris said.
“There’s no pressure at all.”
A woman bought a 90-session
package for her father.
But after 12 sessions, she felt that
the treatment was not effective and
wanted to discontinue the treatments.
The clinic refused to refund the
A customer bought a $18 chiropractic
voucher at a roadshow, went for
consultation and paid $4,500 for a
30-session package to treat his neck
and lower back.
But his stiff neck condition
recurred more often. There was no
improvement in his lower back even
after 24 sessions.
He requested to terminate the
package and got a partial refund.
A customer with severe back pain
visited a chiropractor who did some
general spinal “adjustments” and he
signed up for 60 general treatments
over two years.
He paid $3,200 for the package
and $150 for the consultation.
He later realised that chiropractic
treatments should only be targeted
at the specific problem and not a
general treatment. He cancelled the
package and asked for a refund.
Though he informed Case about the
matter, he chose to liaise with the
Source: Consumers Association of
WHAT CONDITIONS HAVE
TO BE MET FOR MOH TO
STEP IN TO REGULATE THE
MOH: Chiropractors should continue to selfregulate the profession.
The Chiropractic Association (Singapore)
has developed a code of practice, ethics and
advertising guidelines for the profession and
encourages chiropractors to abide by these
WHAT REDRESS DO UNHAPPY
MOH: Consumers can write to the Consumers
Association of Singapore (when there are
disputes due to) misleading advertising and sale
of treatment packages.
Patients and their caregivers are advised to
exercise due diligence and consult appropriate
health-care practitioners for their medical
problems. When in doubt, they should consult a
registered medical practitioner.
Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction