Gibbons’ pick to chiropractic board aligns perfectly with controversy

People laugh when I explain what the Chiropractic Physicians’ Board of Nevada did in 2003, then undid in 2004 after the board became a national laughing stock.

At the urging of two Reno chiropractors on the board — Dr. Larry Davis, who sponsored the regulation change, and Dr. Clyde Porter — the board made it possible for patients to sign waivers saying, even though they were dating their chiropractor, they wanted the doctor to treat them.

Protecting patients is the board’s duty, but this was designed to protect the chiropractors.

Davis was board president when he introduced the “informed consent” concept to the other board members June 1, 2003, as part of a larger package of regulatory changes involving professional conduct.

Board member Dr. Margaret Colucci of Las Vegas immediately spoke against it. “I do not think it’s appropriate for a doctor to treat someone they’re having a sexual relationship with. Unless it’s a spouse, I really don’t think it’s appropriate.”

Davis dismissed Colucci’s ethical concerns and the discussion quickly turned personal, using Las Vegas board member Dr. Stephanie Youngblood as an example of how, with this waiver, she would be able to treat her fiancé.

“I know he’s been wanting treatment from you, as well as other services,” Davis said with a schoolboy’s laugh caught on the tape of the meeting.

“I was left speechless by his remark. I could not believe a comment like that was made in public on the record in front of a microphone,” Youngblood said Wednesday. “I don’t think anyone in the profession was surprised when Governor Guinn did not reappoint him.”

Davis was appointed by Gov. Kenny Guinn in 1999 and was not reappointed when his term expired in October 2003.

But Davis returned to the board in November, thanks to Gov. Jim Gibbons. “The governor is standing by his appointment,” Gibbons’ spokesman Daniel Burns said. He could neither confirm nor deny people contacted the governor’s office to say Davis was a poor appointment.

Eventually, language to allow patients to date their chiropractors if they signed a waiver passed with the support of Davis, Porter and Dr. Ian Yamane, while Colucci opposed it and Youngblood abstained.

In February 2004, Dynamic Chiropractic published a story ridiculing Nevada’s “unprecedented move” to be the first board in the nation to have patients sign an “informed consent” if they want to date their chiropractors.

Soon afterward the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards wrote the board and strongly recommended repealing the regulation. “We believe your board is at risk of facing a significant legal challenge if a licensed practitioner using your approved informed consent were to abuse or otherwise take advantage of a patient,” the federation president wrote.

After the effort to repeal it began in 2004, Gardnerville chiropractor Eric Eakin wrote, “repeal of this regulation is a good thing as it has made us (the state of Nevada) the laughing stock of the country.”

By then, Davis was no longer on the board, and the lone defender of continuing to allow patients to sign waivers in order to date their chiropractors was Porter.

“A girlfriend wants an adjustment. How can we do that without you losing your license for unprofessional conduct?” Porter asked.

Dr. Yamane answered: “The remedy is simple. If you want to date someone, release them into someone else’s care. Adopt the same standards as the medical board does.”

Ultimately, Porter yielded, and all the board members voted unanimously to repeal the “let’s date” waiver.

Dr. James Overland Sr., president of the Nevada Chiropractic Association, said he had heard about concerns about Davis’ appointment and discussed them with Davis. The association was asked to write a letter of opposition to Davis’ appointment, but Overland said he decided against it because he didn’t have enough information. He didn’t say who made the request. At this point, he said, the association is not opposed to Davis’ appointment.

Meanwhile, when asked for an interview in late January, Davis informed me he had hired a libel lawyer. He did not respond to my interview requests Tuesday and Wednesday.

Let’s chalk up one more controversial appointment by Gibbons. Not his first, likely not his last, but definitely one to watch.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison/.

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