Consumer Health Digest #14-25
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 13, 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.
Burzynski hit with massive amended complaint. The Texas Medical Board has filed a 202-page amended complaint against Stanislaw Burzynski, M.D. that adds to charges filed earlier this year. In January, the board charged that Burzynski's advertising was false, misleading, and violated federal law. The FDA permitted Burzynski to conduct clinical trials of substances he calls antineoplastons, which he claims are effective against certain cancers. But this did not give him the right to promote them through the Internet as safe and effective drugs. The amended complaint, which reviews Burzynski's management of seven patients, describes an alleged pattern of substandard care that included (a) improperly accepting retainers prior to providing services, (b) failing to adequately evaluate tumor status, (c) lacking a plausible rationale for his drug regimens, (d) failing to provide adequate informed consent, (e) permitting unlicensed, unqualified individuals whom he misrepresented as doctors to treat patients, (f) doing unnecessary tests, (g) failing to keep adequate medical records, (h) charging exorbitant prices for drugs and services, and (i) billing insurance companies improperly.
Perforated colon suit settled. In 2013, Michael K. Imani, co-owner and clinical director of the Niles Wellness Center in Atlanta, Georgia, was sued by a man whose large intestine (colon) was perforated during administration of colonic irrigation with a Colenz device at Imani's clinic. The patient, who has Parkinson's disease, consulted Imani for help with constipation and underwent two colonic irrigation treatments at Imani's office. The amended complaint charged that:
- During the second procedure, the patientfelt bloated and became increasingly uncomfortable. After he arrived home, the pain became unbearable and he called 911 and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with perforated colon and underwent emergency surgery that left him with a colostomy and required a lengthly period of rehabilitation.
- Imani violated Georgia's Fair Business Practices Act by (a) advertising deceptively; (b) falsely representing that the clinic's equipment was FDA-approved, certified and/or registered; (c) making false representations about the benefits and safety of colon hydrotherapy.
- Imani improperly referred to himself as "Dr. Imani" based on a "Ph.D. in clinical hypnosis" from a nonaccredited correspondence school.
- Imani improperly referred to himself as "board certified" based on certification procedures that "were not awarded as a result of any expertise or his clinical excellence" and "were simply for sale to anyone."
- Imani had been grossly negligent by failing to adequately respond when the patient's life was in danger.
During his deposition, Imani testified that 20,000 irrigations had been done at his clinic and that he had undergone the procedure about 150 times. The suit was settled in 2014 with undisclosed terms.
Court upholds medical expert review of chiropractic records. The Kentucky Court of Appeals has upheld the ability of physicians to provide expert review and testimony in keeping with their full scope of practice and training. Two orthopedic surgeons were evaluating medical records for an auto insurance company (GEICO) to determine whether health care services provided to claimants were likely caused by injuries sustained in automobile accidents. In the underlying lawsuit, the Kentucky Board of Chiropractic Examiners had asserted that Kentucky's laws permit only chiropractors to perform expert review of records involving chiropractic services. A circuit court dismissed the suit on grounds that expert review and peer review have different purposes and that expert review is well within the scope of medical practice. Both courts concluded that the orthopedists were not evaluating the quality of the chiropractic care but were examining what had caused the claimed injuries. The Appeals Court's opinion and an AMA amicus brief have been posted to Casewatch.
This page was revised on January 16, 2015.