Amputee patient sues osteopath who provided holistic treatment

Woman sues after arm amputated following holistic procedure

Danielle Rousseau accuses osteopath Pierre Coallier of misdiagnosing her medical condition and she says she nearly died.

Rousseau, who lives on Montreal’s south shore, says she had been visiting Coallier for three years to deal with a neck strain.

She said one treatment in August 2010 left her with severe pain in her left arm.

“I thought I had a pinched nerve,” Rousseau said, adding she had difficulty moving her hand.

She said she returned to Coallier, who told her the problem was psychological rather than physical, and that she should return home to rest.

She said she visited the emergency room and was transferred to another hospital where she underwent four surgeries, including the amputation of her left arm above the elbow. “If I had been told to go to the doctor, I would still have my arm,” she said.

Rousseau’s lawyer, malpractice specialist Jean-Pierre Menard, alleges Coallier didn’t have the necessary medical expertise to deal with complications.


Coallier is head of the Society of Osteopaths.

On this website, it notes that the osteopath “favors a return to balance and self-healing.” So, we see the holistic aspect.

What is osteopathy?:

Osteopathy is based on the principle that the body has the ability to produce its own remedies against disease and other toxic conditions when the body is under normal structural state in favourable environmental conditions and is fed healthily.

Well, tragically, that didn’t work in this case.

From the story information, I can’t tell what medical training Dr. Coallier has other than and D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) and how that differs from other medical training. From personal experience, I had a wonderful family physician who was a D.O. instead of an M.D. (before I knew the difference). Her philosophy was sort of holistic but not to this extreme. That is, she would recommend whole body health (exercise, nutrition) but never mentioned alt med treatments and would unhesitatingly request tests and prescribe meds for acute conditions. She was a great doctor. Perhaps it’s just a matter of consumer awareness. And, from where I stand, lots of consumers are CONFUSED.

  4 comments for “Amputee patient sues osteopath who provided holistic treatment

  1. April 25, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    It really seems that Osteopaths medical skills and philosophy varies greatly form country to country. In the states, D.O.s seem to practice evidence/science based medicine 95% or so similar to MDs. D.O. can earn CMEs by taking M.D. courses, but this does not appear to be the case in Canada and Britain. (I could be wrong on the overseas portion of this statement.) MDs and DOs can testify as experts against each other in the same/similar speciality at least in Pennsylvania.

    I know one D.O. who called a lot of the OMT her learned in med school mostly “bullshit” that only the “old coots” and “quacks” practiced. Anecdotal, yes.

    As this case took place in Montreal, I am not sure how much that fed into the misdiagnosis. He could just be a bad doc.

  2. April 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Thanks Nigel. I was wondering. Like I said, I saw no difference. She was a “doctor”. If I sensed any holistic crap, I would have left.

  3. Rob Kerr
    April 26, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    Osteopathy in Britain split from the chiropractic school of thinking back in the 1920s, and is currently regarded as on a par with physiotherapy as a medical treatment. Certainly the most qualified osteopath I know has had sufficient medical and human anatomy training to know when to refer a problem that was not musculo-skeletal to the proper specialist.

  4. Nigel
    April 26, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    I take it that Osteopaths in Britain are not parallel with MDs with the same sub specialties in clinical and surgical medicine?

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