NYSBC opinion regarding chiropractic use of MRI and CT scans of the brain

I write regarding your inquiry about chiropractic use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and CT scans of the brain in New York State.

The New York State Education Department has determined that Doctors of Chiropractic are not prohibited from ordering, administering or interpreting results of MRIs or CTs so long as the individual licensee knows he or she has the competence to perform that professional service and does so within the scope of practice of chiropractic, which is defined in section 6551(1) as:

...detecting and correcting by manual or mechanical means structural imbalance, distortion, or subluxations in the human body for purpose of removing nerve interference and the effects thereof, where such interference is the result of or related to distortion, misalignment or subluxation of or in the vertebral column.

It is relevant to note that professional study in chiropractic includes training in the use of MRI and Computerized Tomography. Noting the above-cited statutory reference to "removing nerve interference and the effects thereof", it follows that a chiropractor may conduct or order imaging studies to explore suspected neurological function as well as any contraindications to chiropractic care.

Finally, insurance coverage for any procedure performed by licensed professionals is not determined by Education Law. Although we may determine that a specific procedure is within the lawful scope of a given profession, that by itself does not constitute a requirement for reimbursing the cost of such a procedure under insurance benefit plans. Lawful scope of professional practice and insurance coverage are separate and distinct determinations made in accordance with Education Law and Insurance Law respectively.

Norman G. Cohen
Executive Secretary

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