Consumer Health Digest #18-52
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 30, 2018
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., with help from Stephen Barrett, M.D. 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. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.
Chiropractors sued over peripheral neuropathy claims. The federal government has charged the Kansas City Health & Wellness Clinic in Lenexa, Kansas and its owner-operators Ryan Schell and Tyler Schell with defrauding Medicare by billing for nerve conduction tests, nerve block injections, ultrasonic guidance, and treatments using vasopneumatic devices that were either not provided or not medically reasonable or necessary for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. According to the lawsuit, the clinic solicited patients with ads stating that it could heal neuropathy and "rejuvenate the nerve fibers." The suit lists more than $467,000 in allegedly false billings between October 2011 and December 2013. The federal government is seeking triple that amount under the federal False Claims Act. [Margolies D. Federal government sues Lenexa chiropractic clinic for Medicare fraud. KCUR. Dec 24, 2018] At least two other Kansas chiropractors have faced similar accusations:
- In 2014, Jeffrey D. Fenn of Wichita, Kansas was sentenced to five years in federal prison for defrauding health care insurers for: (a) fraudulently billing for nerve conduction tests, nerve block injections, subcutaneous infiltrate proceedings, fine needle aspirations, and ultrasound procedures, and (b) making fraudulent claims for business and personal income taxes. He was ordered to pay restitution of more than $1.8 million. He surrendered his chiropractic license in 2013.
- In 2017, Brian Schnitta and his clinic Natural Way Chiropractic Center, P.A. agreed to pay the U.S. government $1,037,903 to settle allegations that they violated the federal False Claims Act after the United States alleged that they provided treatments for peripheral neuropathy and charged Medicare for several procedures that were not medically necessary or not otherwise covered including nerve conduction tests, nerve block injections, and ultrasound needle guidance.
Efforts to expand chiropractors' scope denounced. Attorney Jann Bellamy has warned that chiropractors are seeking to expand their scope of practice and even function as primary care practitioners. The legislative strategies include:
- dramatically increasing the scope of diagnostic testing and treatments that chiropractors can employ
- mandating inclusion of chiropractors among health care practitioners authorized to perform school physicals for student athletes
- permitting county education boards to allow chiropractors to perform scoliosis exams on students
- allowing chiropractors to enter into direct primary care agreements with patients so that chiropractors can contract with patients to provide so-called "wellness care" or "maintenance care"
- amending Medicare law to cover "all physicians' services furnished by doctors of chiropractic within the scope of their license."
[Bellamy J. Legislative alchemy 2018: Chiropractors rebranding as primary care physicians continues. Science-Based Medicine. Dec 20, 2018]
Chiropractic "preventive maintenance" blasted. Dr. Stephen Barrett has spotlighted of the prevalent problem of non-evidence-based periodic maintenance or "wellness" care promoted by chiropractors, which often involves long-term contracts at "discounted" prices. [Barrett S. No benefit found for chiropractic 'preventive maintenance'. ACSH. Dec 5, 2018]
"Alternative" cancer therapy ads backfire. A report by group of Chinese physicians drew extensive media coverage and triggered government investigation of China's Quanjian Group, a $3 billion-a-year "alternative medicine" empire. The report spotlighted the story of Zhou Yang, a four-year-old girl with cancer. The Washington Post has reported:
- In 2012, upon advice of Quanjian executives, the girl's chemotherapy was stopped and she was treated with jujube powder and gromwell root oil aromatherapy. In 2013, the girl had to be sent back to the hospital for standard treatment. But Yang's family found that Quanjian had started using photos of her without permission in its online advertising to tout its "miraculous" anti-cancer therapies. Zhou Yang died in 2015.
- The doctors who investigated the ad campaign have also accused Quanjian of running pyramid schemes and failing to disclose its products' safety data. Major E-commerce platforms have since removed all Quanjian products.
- Quanjian has said it would sue to protect its reputation.
- The girl's father has said he would sue Quanjian for tricking him.
Source: Shih G, Li L. A Chinese alternative medicine empire is under fire after doctors say it gave jujube tea to a 4-year old cancer patient. Washington Post. Dec 28, 2018
Quackwatch, Barrett profiled. The importance of couples having compatible health perspectives in order to support each other's health strategies for the long run is emphasized in a new article about Quackwatch and Dr. Stephen Barrett. [Matthews H. Quackwatch™ compiles trustworthy information to debunk health-related frauds impacting couples everywhere. DatingNews.com. Dec 26, 2018]
This page was posted on December 30, 2018.