Consumer Health Digest #13-26

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 4, 2013

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.

"CAM" practitioner licensing attacked. Attorney Jann Bellamy has written a brilliant essay on why "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) practitioners should not be licensed. She gives six main reasons:

  1. Practice acts grant CAM practitioners a broad scope of practice, including legalization of scientifically implausible and unproven (or disproven) diagnostic methods, diagnoses and treatments.
  2. CAM practitioner education is inadequate preparation for the scope of practice permitted.
  3. The fox is allowed to guard the henhouse (self-regulation).
  4. Licensing is a stepping-stone to mandatory public and private insurance coverage.
  5. Licensing confers undeserved legitimacy causing public confusion.
  6. Licensing decreases important health care consumer protections.

Bellamy believes that health care systems should be rooted in a single, science-based standard of care for all practitioners and that practitioners whose diagnoses, diagnostic methods, and therapies have no plausible scientific basis should not be licensed or permitted to practice under any other regulatory scheme. [Bellamy J. Six reasons why CAM practitioners should not be licensed. Science-Based Medicine Blog, June 27, 2013]

Convictions in faith healing death upheld. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of Dale and Leilani Neumann and ruled that Wisconsin's religious defense to felony child abuse does not bar a homicide charge. Both were convicted of second-degree reckless homicide and were later sentenced to serve 30 days in jail per year for six years and ten years of probation. Testimony at their trials indicated that their 11-year-old daughter Madeline died of undiagnosed diabetes because instead of seeking medical help they prayed at her bedside, even after she had lapsed into a coma. The full text of the appeal court's ruling has been posted to Casewatch.

"Nutritional medicine" guru gets 3-month suspension. The Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission has concluded that Jonathan Wright, M.D. engaged in unprofessional conduct by employing an unlicensed physician in his clinic and had failed to cooperate with the Commission's investigation of his wrongdoing. The Commission suspended Wright's license for 90 days, to be followed by 30 months of probation, and ordered him to pay a $7,500 fine. Wright is medical director of the Tahoma Clinic, in King County, Washington. The Final Order states:

The Tahoma Clinic's Web site describes Wright as "a pioneer in holistic medicine and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy" and as "a for-runner [sic] in research and application of natural treatments for healthy aging and illness" who "has taught natural biochemical medical treatments since 1983 to thousands of physicians in the USA, Europe, and Japan." During the mid-1990s, he helped lead the National Health Federation, a group whose primary goal has been to abolish government regulation of health-care activities. Quackwatch has additional background information on his activities.

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This page was posted on July 6, 2013.