Laurie Jean Mathiason inquest - Chiropractor assured mother of dead woman she'd be OK

Chiropractor assured mother of dead woman she'd be OK


SASKATOON (CP) - The mother of a woman who died after having a routine neck treatment was assured by the chiropractor that her daughter would be OK.

"My daughter was dying before my eyes and nothing was happening," Sharon Mathiason sobbed Tuesday while testifying during the first day of an inquest into her daughter’s death.

Laurie Jean Mathiason, 20, died at Royal University Hospital one day after having her neck manipulated by Saskatoon chiropractor Stacey Kramer.

Mathiason, who worked in the same mall as the chiropractor, said she saw her daughter for a few minutes before her chiropractor’s appointment Feb. 4.

But within five minutes, Doyle Gertner, her daughter’s fiance, came running into the store, saying Laurie Jean was in trouble.

Mathiason found her daughter convulsing, twitching and foaming at the mouth on a table. Kramer did nothing to help, she said, but assured her everything would be all right.

"I trusted her, she was the doctor."

Laurie Jean had gone to Kramer’s clinic after complaining of a stiff neck. Gertner, her fiance, held her hand for the procedure, called an adjustment.

An adjustment is a repositioning or correction of the vertebrae in the neck.

Mathiason was rushed to hospital in a coma. Doctors declared her brain-dead the next day, but kept her body on life support for another two days to allow for her kidney, liver and heart valves to be donated.

Both Gertner and Mathiason said the only thing Kramer did to try to revive Laurie Jean was to slap her in the face.

Brent Burbridge, a radiologist at the Royal University Hospital, testified Laurie Jean’s "blood vessel wall was severely damaged, torn."

It was the direct result of a forceful manipulation to the neck. This was an acute blood clot."

Burbridge said he has seen a dozen patients who’ve had neurological problems after going to a chiropractor.

"I believe some patients derive some benefit from chiropractic treatment . . . I would never have my neck manipulated by a chiropractor."

Millions of procedures similar to the one Laurie Jean had done are performed in Canada each year.

According to the Canadian Chiropractic Association, some patients have suffered strokes because of an adjustment, but none has died.

The association says the incidence of stroke from an adjustment is about one in two million or three million procedures.

Both Gertner and Mathiason said they want the inquest to serve as a warning to others.

"More than anything I would like for people to know what can happen by going to a chiropractor. The chances (of something going wrong) are supposedly one in 40,000 to one in four million. How are you supposed to know what the real chances are?"

Mathiason said she wants stricter rules on the chiropractic business.

"They don’t even know basic first aid. My daughter was not given oxygen by a chiropractor, she was not given CPR by a chiropractor, her neck was not immobilized by a chiropractor."

The inquest is to examine the circumstances of her death. It can recommend ways to avoid a similar incident but cannot assign blame.

© The Canadian Press, 1998