Consumer Health Digest #06-39

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 26, 2006

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Dateline stings infomercial industry. NBC's Dateline has broadcast the results of an undercover investigation in which an infomercial producer was asked to create an infomercial for an alleged skin moisturizer called "Moisturol." Even though the producer was told that there was no scientific evidence that the product worked, he agreed to create an infomercial complete with a medical endorser and testimonials from allegedly satisfied users. After the infomercial was completed, the investigators confronted the participants, most of whom (including the doctor) had not even tried the product. Six of the seven "satisfied customers" were actresses who received $50. Margaret Olsen, M.D., a dermatologist who practices in Los Angeles, received $5,000 for her endorsement. The participants did not know that the product was a fake that had been made from Nestle's Quick (a powdered chocolate drink mix). The text and video of the investigation are posted on NBC's Web site. [From the inside out: If you had a questionable product, how hard would it be to find someone to make an infomercial and sell your product to millions? Dateline decided to find out. Dateline, Sept 15, 2006]

"Integrated oral medicine" specialist disciplined. A dentist who advocates what he calls "integrated oral medicine," has been find $1,000 and placed on two years' probation by New York State's licensing authorities. Documents in the case indicate that he was charged with unprofessional conduct and settled the case with a consent agreement that he had "failed to maintain a record that accurately reflected the evaluation and treatment of a patient" from whom he had extracted two teeth. He has written that the teeth had infected root canals and that nearly all root canal teeth are infected. However, this idea and many of his others deviate sharply from mainstream dentistry's beliefs and practices. During the past few years, his Web site (now defunct) offered "advanced protocols" and products for the treatment of cancer and various other diseases that are outside the normal scope of dentistry. [Note: name removed from this report on April 21, 2013, because he has permanently retired from dentistry and is no longer a public hreat.}

Delicensed chiropractor sentenced for insurance fraud. Former chiropractor Markell D. Boulis, has been sentenced to 41 months imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution of $1,100,000 Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and ten insurance companies that he and two of his companies cheated in a fraudulent billing scheme between 1999 and 2003. Boulis was also ordered to pay restitution to Medicare and the Internal Revenue Service. In April, Boulis and two of his companies, Practice Solutions, Inc., and National Insurance Auditors, LLC, pled guilty to one count of health care fraud. Court documents indicate that Boulis set up a “practice management” consulting business for chiropractors about three months after the state of Pennsylvania suspended his chiropractor’s license. Practice Solutions, Inc. would sponsor “practice building” seminars for chiropractors throughout the country. During the seminars, participants were told that National Insurance Auditors, LLC, was a separate, independent company comprised of “experts” in the review of patient records. This company could help attendees identify “lost” income resulting from services which had not been properly reimbursed by insurers due to incorrect coding, or a failure to bill for the services. Chiropractors were encouraged to contract with National Insurance Auditors, LLC for “back-billing” services as a means to generate additional income. As part of the scheme, Boulis’s associates promised to audit the chiropractors’ records to look for services that had been performed but not billed. However, government investigators found that the auditors merely copied the records and the billing company billed for new or additional services that had not been performed. [Chiropractic consultant sentenced for defrauding private insurance companies and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. USDOJ news release, Sept 19, 2006]

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This page was revised on April 21, 2013.