The following is an excerpt from an information sheet provided to Canadian chiropractors by the Canadian Chiropractic Association regarding the September 9-11, 1998 inquest into the incident in Saskatoon:

(For information only)

The safety of chiropractic neck manipulation was put under a microscope this past week at the inquest into the death of Laurie Jean Mathiason following a visit to a Saskatoon chiropractor last February. The jury's recommendations, outlined below, clearly bear this out.

Jury recommendations arising out of the Coroner's inquest into the death of Laurie Jean Mathiason:

  1. that the ministries of health provide funding for research to determine
    a) the incidence of stroke associated with cervical manipulation
    b) the benefits and harmful effects of single and multiple adjustments
    c) to develop effective screening tests to identify patients at risk of stroke from cervical manipulations.
  2. that a standard form be developed to reveal a patient's medical and family history and that the administrative assistant in the chiropractor's office ensure the form is properly completed. The chiropractor will verify and review this form and explain his or her expertise to the patient.
  3. that chiropractic associations across the country collaborate to ensure that:
    a) the consent forms are discussed with patients.
    b) literature on the risks of stroke be visible and available in the reception area.
    c) once effective screening tests are developed to detect patients at risk of stroke that these tests are to be made mandatory.
  4. that there be increased communication between medical specialties to maximize the benefits and reduce the risks of treatments.

It is notable that the jury listed the cause of death as a tear in the vertebral artery and not a cervical manipulation. Furthermore, the jury recognized the fact that the reason that chiropractic has very little data on the effectiveness of the procedure as well as its risk factors is that governments have not assisted the chiropractic profession with funds for the appropriate research and clearly the jury has put the governments to task for this.

The witnesses called by the CCPA and the CAS showed how far the chiropractic profession has come in developing a pool of expertise on par with the expert witnesses from the medical profession. Dr. Adrian Grice was a strong spokesperson for chiropractic education and acquitted himself like a pro in the media scrum on the courthouse steps. Dr. David Cassidy's distinguished academic background and extensive scientific research publications made him a compelling witness, The fact that Dr. Cassidy is a visiting professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, where the Nobel prize for medicine is awarded, got the jury's attention. Dr. Paul Pelloso, MD called by the CAS, a practicing rheumatologist and researcher, provided additional assurance to the jury in the form of a medical doctor who works daily with chiropractors, is familiar with cervical adjustments and assured them that they are indeed safer than NSAIDS.

In each instance, in the final analysis, good science carried the day for chiropractic.

Another major achievement of this inquest was that Dr. Murray Katz, MD, self-appointed anti-chiropractic "expert" was discredited. The objections filed by the lawyer daily retained by the CCPA as well as Dr. Peterson's letter pointing out Dr. Katz's bias were instrumental in alerting the Coroner to where Dr. Katz was coming from. Dr. Katz wanted to read into testimony a 43 page diatribe against the chiropractic profession as his "testimony" - the Coroner stopped him in his tracks by saying "Dr. Katz, how can this be your testimony when you haven't been asked any questions." In the final analysis Dr Katz was the only expert witness not asked a question by the jury.

Chiropractic has come a long way and the focus of the jury's recommendations on the provision of government support for research is a clear indication by the public of the recognition that chiropractic has achieved in providing for the health care needs of Canadians.