Tips to ensure patient safety and enhance treatment outcomes
Chiropractic care is generally promoted as a holistic approach to healthcare. It focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. As doctors of chiropractic, we employ a variety of tools and equipment to provide effective and comprehensive care to our patients. However, it is crucial to have comprehensive education on these tools and equipment to ensure their safe and effective use.
The chiropractic table
Perhaps the most used tool in providing chiropractic care is the chiropractic table. These specialized tables are designed to provide support and comfort to our patients during various chiropractic procedures. A quality table allows DCs to position patients correctly and access different areas of the body with ease. However, improper use of the chiropractic table can lead to discomfort or even injury to the patient. Therefore, it is essential for DCs to receive comprehensive education on the proper use and adjustment of the table to ensure patient safety and comfort. Some manufacturers or distributors provide onsite delivery and training, educational videos or Zoom training now with the advancement in today’s technology options. One positive change from the pandemic was the introduction of Zoom and other virtual meeting options which can efficiently enhance the support and education structure of a DC’s tools and equipment.1
Chiropractic adjustment instruments
Chiropractic adjustment instruments are another important tool in chiropractic care. These handheld devices deliver precise, controlled force to specific areas of the spine or extraspinal joints. They can help correct misalignments and restore proper function to the musculoskeletal system. However, using adjustment instruments incorrectly can result in adverse effects or ineffective treatments. DCs must receive extensive education on the different types of adjustment instruments available, their proper use and the specific techniques associated with each instrument.
Therapeutic modalities and equipment
Additionally, DCs often use various therapeutic modalities and equipment to complement their manual adjustments. These may include ultrasound machines, electrical stimulation devices, heat or cold therapy equipment and decompression traction devices, among others.2 Each of these tools has specific indications, contraindications and protocols for use. DCs must have a complete understanding of these modalities and equipment to determine their appropriateness for each patient and to ensure their safe and effective application. Also, it is important to make sure your stim, ultrasound and decompressive traction tables are calibrated once a year to comply with the FDA’s safety guidelines.3 This will also ensure safe treatment application and give you certainty of providing the best outcomes with these therapies.
It is highly recommended you seek out refresher education courses on these physiotherapy modalities. Most practices utilize these modalities in the same way on every patient, whereas the most proper methodology is to clinically assess the patient’s needs and properly apply the tools the correct way to ensure the best-desired result. For example, pulsed galvanic high–volt stimulation is the most researched and evidence-based electrotherapy waveform on the market of the eight possible options; it greatly reduces edema and improves tissue healing. Interferential or quad polar, which is most commonly used in offices, is for pain relief and analgesia, which does not address the underlying problem: inflammation. Based on my exposure years ago to an education-based distributor, I choose to use a clinical decision-making process for the selection and application of these modalities instead of applying it like electric aspirin.
New additions to the DC’s toolbox
Much newer additions to the DC’s toolbox include shockwave therapy, high-powered therapeutic lasers, decompression therapy and high energy inductive therapy (HEIT). These modalities can be game–changing for patient outcomes when used correctly, but unfortunately many doctors purchase equipment from dealers who provide little to no training on the safe and proper use of this equipment. The next time you are seeking to add a new tool to your practice, I recommend doing your due diligence on what training and support is included with that product. Although marketing and price are important factors, the most important aspect of this decision-making process is the level of training and support, which ultimately is most important to clinical outcomes and overall success.
Ensure patient safety and optimize treatment outcomes
Comprehensive education on chiropractic tools and equipment is not only important for patient safety but also for optimizing treatment outcomes. DCs who are well-versed in the proper use of these tools can provide more accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments and better overall patient care. This drives much more new business from existing client referrals and lessens the need for expensive marketing. Proper education can also minimize the risk of complications or adverse effects associated with improper tool usage. If there is a chance for an effect, there also is a chance for a side effect. Keep this in mind when someone is telling you a product has no chance at causing harm.
Furthermore, an extensive education on chiropractic tools and equipment allows DCs to stay updated with the latest advancements in the field. As technology continues to evolve, new tools and equipment are constantly being introduced to enhance chiropractic care. By staying informed and educated, DCs can incorporate these advancements into their practice, providing their patients with the most up-to-date and effective treatments available.
Purchasing medical equipment from a company that offers training is a wise and prudent decision for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, such a company demonstrates a commitment to ensuring the safe and effective use of their products. Training sessions provided by the manufacturer not only familiarize users with the equipment but also educate them on best practices, maintenance and troubleshooting, reducing the risk of errors and accidents. This leads to enhanced patient safety and improved healthcare outcomes. Additionally, ongoing support and training from the manufacturer can significantly reduce downtime due to technical issues, ensuring the equipment remains reliable and functional. In essence, investing in medical equipment from a company that provides training not only guarantees product knowledge but also reflects a dedication to the long-term success and well-being of healthcare professionals and their patients.
In conclusion, comprehensive education on chiropractic tools and equipment is of utmost importance for DCs. It ensures patient safety, enhances treatment outcomes and allows DCs to stay current with advancements in the field. DCs should invest in continuing education programs, workshops and seminars to expand their knowledge and skills in the proper use of these tools. Search out dealers who provide quality training; sometimes the cost is slightly higher, but your outcomes will be much better. By doing so, you too can provide the highest–quality care to your patients and contribute to the advancement of chiropractic as a whole.
DAVID BOHN, DC, graduated from National University of Health Sciences in 1988 and has since been in continuous practice. Since 2004, Bohn has pursued development of both documentation and X-ray analysis software. He has extensive experience developing, marketing and maintaining a successful practice. Bohn is an instructor for KDT Decompression Therapy Seminars.
- Gross G, et al. In-Person or Virtual Training? Comparing the Effectiveness of Community-Based Training. American Journal of Distance Education. 2023;37(1):66-77. Taylor and Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08923647.2022.2029090. Accessed Dec. 6, 2023.
- Reed BV. Effect of High Voltage Pulsed Electrical Stimulation on Microvascular Permeability to Plasma Proteins: A Possible Mechanism in Minimizing Edema. Physical Therapy. 1988;68(4):491–495. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/68.4.491. Accessed Nov. 30, 2023.
- 21 CFR Part 820 Quality System Regulation. Subpart G Production and Process Controls. Sec. 820.72 Inspection, measuring, and test equipment. FDA website. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/ =820. Accessed Nov. 30, 2023.