Regulator investigating Halifax chiropractor's posts on vaccination
In this file photo, a doctor's assistant prepares a measles vaccination in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. (AP / Lukas Schulze)
HALIFAX -- A Halifax chiropractor is under investigation by a provincial regulator for social media and online posts questioning vaccination.
John Sutherland, executive director of the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors, confirmed Friday the college's registrar filed a complaint against Dr. Dena Churchill on May 17.
"These statements cannot be out there on behalf of a professional," Sutherland said in an interview.
He said Churchill has used various social media platforms to air her views on vaccination, something he says is "outside the scope of chiropractic practice."
The college's website contains a statement to that effect, and also says, "The Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors recognizes that vaccination and immunization are established public health practices in the prevention of infectious diseases."
In an email, Churchill declined an interview regarding her situation with the college.
"Thank you for the opportunity but at this time I must gratefully decline," she said.
"It is a great public service to explore and report on the current research. There is so much we think we know that just isn't so."
Under the college's procedures, Sutherland said the registrar had to counsel Churchill to comply with the college's requirement to remove the public information. He said since then there has only been "partial compliance."
"The college was very clear to its members," Sutherland said. "Whether your site or your platform is clinical or personal it doesn't matter, if you are attached to it, it has to come down."
Sutherland said Churchill has 10 business days to respond to the complaint before it is reviewed by a committee that can fine, suspend a licence, or refer the matter to a hearing that would have the same status as a court.
"Normally a suspension of a licence is done if there is a concern that the public may be in immediate risk or danger," he said.
Churchill has until June 1 to respond, while the committee will review the complaint sometime during the first week of June, Sutherland said.
Churchill, who also promotes herself as an author, public speaker and health innovator, writes about health issues including vaccination in a blog entitled Dr. Sexy Mom.
A CBC report which first revealed the regulator's investigation said Churchill had posted online videos including one which alleges the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has a financial bias related to vaccines. It also pointed out that in the video Churchill says that she's not representing chiropractors.
Information that is still accessible includes the blog where in one post Churchill talks about studies that link health effects to increased numbers of vaccines.
Her Twitter feed also directs people to studies and articles against vaccination.