Osteopath's 'flawed' baby stroke diagnosis

  • 07/12/2015

A cranial osteopath has been ordered to apologise to a new mum after diagnosing a stroke in a newborn baby he barely examined during a consultation.

The alternative therapist has been found to have breached health service consumer rights when he told the mother that her colicky month-old infant had probably suffered a brain bleed during labour.

The unnamed osteopath then, according to relatives present, said he'd "never seen anything like it before" and then asked whether the boy had been hit in the back of the head.

To reassure the distressed mother, he then said such bleeds were common and the baby boy was "healing himself and that was fine", a report by the Health and Disability Commissioner states.

The diagnosis, referred to as a "feeling", came after just two short consultations, the first of which he didn't touch the baby and the second involved just "light contact" with the head and neck.

The mother was "very upset" and Googled brain bleeds before visiting her GP who reassured her the baby was healthy.

The woman's mother-in-law, who attended the sessions, rang the osteopath the day after the last consultation in April 2014 telling him that was "dangerous information" to give to a new mother.

The mum had since gone on to suffer postnatal depression, not helped, the relative says, by her osteopathy experience.

"I certainly do not wish to see any other young mother ever having to go through this experience," she told deputy commissioner Rose Wall.

In a decision released today, Ms Wall found the therapist had breached the mother's consumer rights with his "inappropriate" diagnosis based on a flawed reasoning.

He also failed to explain his assessment and treatment of the baby, leaving the mother confused and upset.

He didn't document any discussions with the family or refer the baby to a specialist, as was required by law.

The osteopath was ordered to apologise to the family, review his practice and undertake further training to learn how to better communicate with clients.