Consumer Health Digest #12-44

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 13, 2012

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.

Chiropractic practice-builder hit with another judgment. A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has ordered Daniel H. Dahan, D.C., and his business, Progressive Diagnostic Imaging, to pay Allstate Insurance Company $7,010,668.40 in a qui tam ("whistleblower") lawsuit arising out of a scheme to defraud insurance companies. The total included $4,870,000 in civil penalties, $918,516.78 in assessments, and $1,222,151.62 in attorney's fees, costs and investigative expenses. [Barrett S. Allstate wins $7 million judgment in another chiropractic fraud case. Chirobase, Dec 14, 2012] The judge also prohibited Dahan from owning, operating or working as an employee in any business engaged in the practice of medicine. Allstate's lawsuit alleged that Dahan purchased report-writing software that purported to analyze x-rays and form medical opinions and diagnoses, including opinions concerning permanent impairment ratings, and thereafter formed Progressive Diagnostic Imaging to solicit x-rays from chiropractors, with the assurance that "board certified radiologists" would analyze the films. However Dahan used untrained and unlicensed individuals to prepare the fraudulent radiology reports and to cut and paste the signatures of board certified radiologists to the reports, The bogus medical reports had the effect of fraudulently increasing the settlement value of injury claims, causing Allstate to pay substantially more than would have been paid if Allstate had known the reports were untrustworthy. At trial, four radiologists, whose names appeared on reports, testified they never wrote, reviewed, approved, or signed the reports. In September, a New Jersey court ordered Dahan to pay close to $4 million in connection with another scheme.

TV commercial loudness rules take effect. As of December 13th, television commercials must have the same average volume as the programs they accompany. The rules implement the 2010 Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (the CALM Act) which gave the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to address the problem of excessive commercial loudness. Commercials that seem louder than the programming they accompany can be reported online. Nearly all of the quarterly reports released by the FCC since 2002 have included loudness of television commercials as a top complaint.

"Killer" chiropractor denied massage therapy license. The Pennsylvania Board of Massage Therapy has denied the application of Joann Gallagher, a chiropractor who was responsible for the death of an epileptic woman who died in 1999 after Gallagher persuaded her to stop taking anti-seizure medication. Gallagher subsequently pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and served 18 months in prison. Gallagher primarily practiced craniosacral therapy, a pseudoscientific approach based on the notion that ailments are caused by blockages in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and that such blockages can be detected and relieved by pressing lightly on the skull. After leaving prison, she retrained and practiced as a massage therapist (still doing craniosacral therapy) until a new law required massage therapists to be licensed. In denying her application, the Pennsylvania State Board of Massage Therapy concluded that she did not possess good moral character. Chirobase has additional details and links to the relevant documents.

Australians warned about water purifier scams. The New South Wales Fair Trading Department has warned local residents to reject bogus sales calls claiming the quality of tap water supplied by Sydney Water is harmful and that they need to purchase a water purifier and/or have their drinking water tested. A Sydney official said its drinking water meets Australian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines and does not require further purification by customers. Residents were also warned that scammers may misrepresent themselves as Sydney Water employees. [Fair Trading and Sydney Water warning on water scam. News release, Feb 20, 2012] In 2011, residents were warned that scammers misrepresenting themselves that way were offering shower head replacements. "Water purification" scams are common in many parts of the world.

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This page was revised on December 17, 2012.