Consumer Health Digest #15-07
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 15, 2015
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.
Majority of chiropractic students believe in subluxations. An electronic survey of 7,455 students from 12 of the 19 North American chiropractic colleges has found that the "subluxation" concept remains deeply rooted. [Giledt JA. Chiropractic identity, role and future: a survey of North American chiropractic students. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 23(4), 2015] Among the 1,247 who responded:
- A majority agreed (35.6%) or strongly agreed (25.8%) that the emphasis of chiropractic intervention is to eliminate vertebral subluxations/vertebral subluxation complexes. Of the rest, 15.2% were neutral, 10.3% disagreed, and 6.9% strongly disagreed.
- Only 51.9% agreed or strongly agreed that contemporary and evolving scientific evidence is more important than traditional chiropractic theory (subluxation-centered practice). Of the rest, 25.2% were neutral, 13.6% disagreed, and 3.8% strongly disagreed.
Chiropractors loosely define vertebral subluxations as spinal misalignments that somehow interfere with nerve function and affect general health, but they cannot agree among themselves about the details. [Barrett S. Subluxation: Chiropractic's elusive buzzword. Chirobase, May 26, 2006] The persistent beliefs reflected in the survey responses indicate that chiropractic will remain rooted in non-scientific thinking for decades to come.
Celebrity doctor pledges to modify business practices. The New York State Attorney General has announced that Eric R. Braverman, M.D. and his PATH Medical clinic have agreed to revise their consent forms, more clearly disclose their charges, and ensure that patients understand that many of PATH's tests are not covered by insurance. The press release announcing the settlement stated:
As part of its focus on early detection and treatment of disease, PATH Medical conducted extensive and expensive diagnostic tests during a patient's initial visit. Those tests include echocardiograms, costing $1,900, "brain electrical activity mapping" tests, for $2,000 collectively, multiple ultrasounds, ranging from $450 to $750, as well as psychological and cognitive assessments. PATH also sold packages of tests and services to patients that ranged in cost from $10,000 to $100,000. While the business, does not participate . . . in any health insurance plans, it led some consumers to believe that a significant percentage of the charges—sometimes up to 80%—would be covered by their health plans' out-of-network benefit. However, patients' health plans were not typically covering a significant percentage of the total charges for PATH Medical's services. Indeed, some plans were routinely denying the claims submitted by the practice. These alleged inaccurate representations by PATH Medical resulted in some patients facing thousands of dollars in unexpected costs for a single visit.
Much of Braverman's practice is centered around his claim that "brain imbalances are a factor in virtually all diseases." PATH Medical's Web site claims that the brain-mapping test can detect neurotransmitter (brain-chemical) "deficiencies" associated with scores of symptoms and diseases that are treatable with dietary strategies, dietary supplements, and exercise regimens.
The New York Post has reported that (a) Braverman and his attorney Diana Moyhi were arrested for allegedly trying to steal confidential custody-case documents from a courtroom, (b) they were charged with tampering with public records and criminal contempt for disobeying a judge's orders not to remove the paperwork that was related to a nasty custody battle with his wife, and (c) the wife is claiming that their boys are not safe with him because he has tried to improperly medicate them. [March J, Conley K. Doctor accused of stealing court documents in custody fight. New York Post, Jan 30, 2015] Braverman is also facing suits from two former patients, one for fraud and the other for fraud plus malpractice. Dr. Stephen Barrett has posted a detailed history of Braverman's activities with links to relevant documents.
Bill introduced to facilitate purchase of less-expensive drugs from Canada. U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have reintroduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act (S. 122), which would legalize importation of prescription drugs from approved Canadian pharmacies and provide consumers with a list. This bill is important because millions of Americans are buying from online pharmacies in Canada and elsewhere where prices are much lower for the same drugs sold within the United States. Legitimate Canadian pharmacies can be located through PharmacyChecker.com.
This page was revised on February 15, 2015.