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Failure to provide information and inappropriate diagnosis of stroke in baby (14HDC00614)
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(14HDC00614, 9 November
Osteopath ~ Cranial osteopathy ~ Intracranial bleed ~ Rights
6(1), 7(1), 4(1), 4(2)
A mother took her baby, who had suffered colic and was very
unsettled, to see an osteopath.
The osteopath initially diagnosed the baby with "reduced dural
sac function" and treated the baby using cranial osteopathy
techniques. Following treatment the baby appeared settled so the
mother booked a further consultation with the osteopath.
During the second consultation the osteopath identified a new
palpatory finding, which he said indicated an intracranial bleed.
The osteopath proceeded with treating the baby and became reassured
by the baby's response that he had not in fact suffered an
intracranial bleed, and did not require any further specialist
At the end of the treatment the osteopath told the baby's mother
and grandmother that during his assessment and treatment he had
noted some findings that were consistent with a stroke, but that
this was a differential diagnosis that could not be confirmed.
The mother was very upset by the time she left the consultation,
and she went home immediately and looked on the internet and
convinced herself that something was seriously wrong with her baby.
The mother took her baby to his general practitioner, who advised
that there was no evidence that the baby had suffered a stroke.
It was held that by failing to provide the baby's mother with
sufficient information about his initial assessment and proposed
treatment the osteopath breached Right 6(1). As a consequence, the
osteopath also breached Right 7(1) for providing services to the
baby without informed consent.
It was also held that by failing to provide the baby's mother
with adequate information in relation to his assessment findings at
the second consultation, the osteopath breached Right 6(1).
By forming a differential diagnosis based on flawed clinical
reasoning, it was found that the osteopath failed to provide
services with reasonable care and skill and breached Right
By failing to refer the baby to a specialist, proceeding with
his treatment during the second consultation, and for not
documenting any discussions he had with the baby's caregiver, nor
the assessments he carried out, it was found that the osteopath
failed to provide services that complied with the Osteopathic
Council's Capabilities for Osteopathic Practice, a
relevant professional standard, and breached Right 4(2).
The company that owns the clinic where the osteopath operates
from was not found to be vicariously liable for the osteopath's
breaches of the Code. However, concern was raised in relation to
its lack of written policies and procedures.