SafetyNET is an academic and professional partnership created to support a culture of safety for spinal manipulation therapy (SMT). We are an interdisciplinary team of leaders in patient safety and SMT with expertise in qualitative, health law, community-based safety, active surveillance, epidemiology, and basic science research, as well as a demonstrated ability to work with decision-makers to create effective change.

SMT, a non-invasive manual procedure applied to specific body tissues with therapeutic intent, is the most common CAM procedure provided in North America. While manipulation is most commonly provided by chiropractors, it is also provided by physiotherapists, physicians and osteopaths. Recent surveys estimate that 50% of Canadians have received SMT, most commonly for back and neck pain. Despite its popularity, there are few formal systems in place to address adverse events associated with SMT.

Our team aims to support a culture of safety around SMT through a multifaceted, collaborative approach. This initiative is strongly endorsed by the professions themselves who are working closely with us to further enhance the quality of patient care.

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Our goal of supporting a patient safety culture for SMT will be accomplished through a research program that engages with SMT practitioners and their professional regulatory bodies, patients, educators, and policy-makers on every level. Our six objectives are:

  1. Identify needs and potential barriers to adverse event identification, reporting and reduction.
  2. Explore the unique legal issues associated with patient safety in the context of CAM and SMT.
  3. Develop, pilot, and refine an active surveillance reporting and learning system, including documentation of procedures, presence/absence of adverse events, and changes in practice in response to these events.
  4. Investigate mechanism(s) of action through basic science investigation to generate new knowledge related to the biomechanics of SMT procedures.
  5. Adjudicate identified adverse events with regard to causation and communicate identified risk factors, and  
  6. Communicate project findings to providers, patients, educators, and policy-makers through collaboration with provincial and national regulatory bodies, professional associations and educational colleges.