Consumer Health Digest #14-01
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 12, 2014
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.
Bircham International University investigated. Credential Watch has posted a major investigative report on Bircham International University, a correspondence school, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, which has enrolled about 6,000 students since 2000. [Barrett S. A skeptical look at Bircham International University. Credential Watch, Jan 7, 2014] The report concludes:
- BIU is not accredited by any agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in the United States or by any Ministry of Education. However, it is legally permitted to operate under Spanish Law as a provider of "non-formal" education.
- BIU's courses are based primarily on supervised readings of standard textbooks. Most of the teachings are straightforward, but its health-related courses include anti-aging therapy, aromatherapy, ayurveda, bioenergetic therapy, colonic irrigation, energy healing, homeopathy, iridology, traditional Chinese medicine, and yoga therapy, all of which partially or entirely embrace nonsense.
- BIU's degree requirements are much less than those of universities accredited by CHEA-recognized agencies. Thus its degrees suggest that their bearers have considerably more formal education and expertise than they actually have.
Florida dentist agrees to stop using Sargenti materials. In 1996, the Florida Board of Dentistry determined that the use of Sargenti cement (also called N2, RC2B, or RC2W) or essentially similar compounds to fill root canals "does not meet the minimum standards of performance for competent dental practice in Florida." [Rule 64B5-17.012] The board did this because Sargenti pastes, which contain paraformaldehyde, can damage surrounding tissues if they leak beyond the root canal. In 2011, the board charged Raymond Della Porta, Sr., D.M.D., of Vero Beach, Florida, with providing substandard care based on his use of Sargenti cement in two patients. The board's action was triggered by a complaint from a Sargenti critic who called attention to a statement by Della Porta that he had used the Sargenti system for 35 years and had treated over 5,000 cases.
In 2012, Della Porta and the board signed a settlement agreement under which the board would issue a letter of concern and order him to (a) pay a $5,000 fine, (b) refund out-of-pocket fees and costs to the patients, and (c) permanently refrain from using Sargenti material in endodontic procedures. Shortly after the agreement was signed, however, Della Porta filed a motion for reconsideration which noted that he had practiced for nearly 44 years without disciplinary action, had stopped using the Sargenti material, and had reimbursed the two patients as agreed. The board then vacated its order and dismissed the complaint. After the case ended, Lorrie Kruse, a Sargenti critic who believes that the board was too lenient, sent e-mail requests to several enforcement officials asking that more be done. Della Porta responded by suing Kruse for defamation, but the suit backfired. In December 2013, he withdrew it and agreed to pay an undisclosed sum in return for Kruse's pledge that she would not sue him for malicious prosecution or other grounds related to the case.
Fake doctor convicted of practicing medicine without a license. A San Diego jury has found Keith Allen Barton, 51, guilty of six felony counts of treating patients without a medical license, one count of false personation, and three counts related to grand theft. According to the District Attorney's news release:
- Barton is not licensed as a medical doctor, osteopath, or naturopath but shares his name with a real medical doctor who is licensed in California. Barton used the fact that only his middle name differed from the real Dr. Barton to create the impression that he was a licensed professional.
- Barton promised to cure a woman and her children of HIV. One of the children subsequently died as a result of not receiving effective treatment. The victim paid Barton $18,000 for the treatment.
- Barton also advised a woman with autoimmune disease to surgically extract all of her teeth and to take an ineffective treatment called "dendritic cellular therapy." This victim paid Barton more than $32,000 for his remedies.
- Barton also offered to treat cancer patients.
- The jury announced its verdict after two days of deliberations. Barton faces up to eight years and 10 months in local prison at sentencing on February 10.
Barton did business as the International Holistic Health Clinic in La Mesa, California. Cancer Treatment Watch has an additional victim report.
Chiropractic groups disclaim interest in prescribing drugs. The Chiropractic Summit, a consortium of 40 of chiropractic's leading organizations, has issued the following statement:
The drug issue is a non-issue because no chiropractic organization in the Summit promotes the inclusion of prescription drug rights and all chiropractic organizations in the Summit support the drug-free approach to health care.
Some chiropractors have argued that the ability to manage patients would be enhanced if chiropractors could prescribe pain-relieving drugs. But others—apparently comprising a majority—believe that the use of drugs would violate basic chiropractic principles, and some have expressed concern that including drug use within chiropractic's scope might enable chiropractors to be held legally responsible for meeting medical standards.
This page was posted on January 12, 2014.