Limited Prescription Authority for Chiropractors?

Should chiropractors be allowed to prescribe some pharmaceuticals or over the counter medications with proper training?  Some say yes, others disagree. Some regions are actually changing their laws to permit this limited prescription ability.  I spoke with Dr. John J. Triano, Dean of Graduate Education and Research at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and one of the best known chiropractic researchers. He’s also a former clinician at the world renowned Texas Back Institute. I wanted to gain some prespective on this issue.  Dr. Triano discussed his views on chiropractors prescribing medications but also talked about rational chiropractic and why subluxation may be the cause of the downfall of chiropractic in the United States.

The podcast episode is located on iTunes (search for “On The Other Hand” or just click here.

Chiropractic prescription authority interview with John J. Triano, DC PhD conducted with Dr. Brett L. Kinsler.


  1. Nick K said,

    November 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I always found it interesting how we, as a profession, limit ourselves (almost apologetically). We have laws on the books that use outdated language and concepts (mostly because we were just happy to get on the books at all.)

    At this point, we are beyond needing to be apologetic. We should pursue “prescription rights”, not “Limited prescription rights.”

    The limitations should be based on evidence and conditions treated, not legislation. If a new pharmaceutical agent were to come out… we shouldn’t have to go back to the books, or an externally driven board, to get it added to the “list.” If the drugs that we already use (neutraceuticals, etc) are legislated into controlled substances, then we should be positioned to “prescribe” them after a potential legislative change. (The same goes for “surgical” things like phlebotomy and MUA.)

    Additionally, having the pharm/surg “rights” opens up a whole new world of residency and fellowship training in the hospital systems. We can bring our skill set as physicians into that environment as peers in the educational process. When rotating through, for example, orthopedic surgery, we would be in the participatory category (MD/DO [physician level], PA,NP,etc) as opposed to the observational category. Within one generation, that alone would elevate the status of the profession and open up our patient base.

    I like to think of it this way: A police officer has a badge, gun, cuffs, and authority. Remove any one of those, then they are a vigilante, security guard, criminal, tough guy… but not a police officer. Yes, some of those entrusted with that role will abuse that authority. The vast majority do not… in fact, most police officers never fire their weapon in the line of duty.

    Like it or not, there are cultural norms we are dealing with. “Doctors who take care of patients” are seen as having a skill set. In our world, that includes having the license to give “pills and potions” and being able to “pierce the body” (even if they never choose to do so.)

  2. November 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Good point. By stating that prescription rights would be ‘limited’ we are already limiting our rights from the start. Why not let our scope of practice limit how we use an ability? Much like an ophthalmologist wouldn’t prescribe medication for a knee injury even though he or she could. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Future Chiropractic Profession said,

    November 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Doc, thank you. You made a very good point there. Why do we limit ourselves? If a doctor would like to practice straight then do straight, but don’t limit the rest of us. In my opinion, we need to open up the scope of practice and open up residency programs in the hospital. There is shortage of doctors and a lot of patients need our help. In some ways, we’re like police officers with no gun — but isn’t a police officer without a gun just a security guard?

  4. Bushra said,

    December 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks for opening this discussion. I totally agree with you. We should go straight for full prescription rights, not limited prescription rights. After practicing chiropractic for the last 4 years, I now know how important it is to have prescription rights in order to help those patients who need necessary medications. I would challenge anybody who opposes this idea to consider factors such as the shortage of primary care physicians around the world, and how many more people we can help if we have full prescription rights. This would also increase awareness about chiropractic in hospitals and other health care facilities through internship, and residency. To serve people around the world well, chiropractic physicians need full prescription rights.

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