Man convicted for operating as an unqualified chiropractor

Friday 19 November 2010, 4:51PM
By Ministry of Health


The Manukau District Court today ordered Kevin John Burlace to pay almost $5000 in fines, reparations and costs for performing an activity which can only be carried out by a registered health practitioner.

Burlace pleaded guilty in October to the charge of performing “high-velocity” manipulation of the cervical spinal joints, a restricted activity in breach of section 9 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCA Act) 2003, on a female patient in October 2007. Since undergoing that treatment, the patient has suffered from ongoing neck pain.

“The harm suffered by this patient is a cautionary tale for consumers to check whether the health practitioners they are seeing are registered medical practitioners, chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists,” Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Stewart Jessamine said.

“The purpose of the system of registration for health practitioners is to protect the public and ensure a high standard of health care,” Dr Jessamine explained.

Burlace had his “Papatoetoe Back and Neck Clinic” listed in the Yellow Pages under the heading “Chiropractor”.

“For an unqualified person to perform the restricted activity of cervical manipulation presents obvious risks to the health and safety of patients,” according to Dr Jessamine. “These risks include stroke or death, and bone fracture.”

“Consumers who have suffered harm after dealing with unqualified and unregistered persons who claim to be health practitioners are encouraged to bring this to the attention of the Ministry of Health,” Dr Jessamine said.

The Ministry investigated Burlace after receiving a complaint from the Chiropractic Board in late 2008. Following that investigation, the Ministry laid a charge against Burlace for performing a restricted activity which can only be carried out by qualified practitioners under the HPCA Act.

By performing the restricted activity, Burlace breached section 9 of the HPCA Act. Persons carrying out restricted activities can be fined up to $30,000.