Category: Medical Ethics

How State Medical Boards Shoot Themselves (and You) in the Foot

This is almost the final entry (for now) in a series of posts about the pitfalls of regulating physicians who peddle quackery.† In previous entries we’ve seen how quacks have portrayed an illegal and pseudoscientific treatment, intravenous hydrogen peroxide, as legitimate; how a physician who practiced that and other dubious methods eluded definitive regulatory sanctions for years; examples of quacks banding together to...

/ October 31, 2008

Massage for AIDS

I recently learned of a study entitled “Dominican Children with HIV not Receiving Antiretrovirals: Massage Therapy Influences their Behavior and Development.” It disturbed me, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. They’re massaging these kids but letting them die of AIDS? I went back and read the complete article, and it left me even more disturbed. They studied 48 Dominican...

/ October 14, 2008

Pitfalls in Regulating Physicians. Part 2: The Games Scoundrels Play

A Few Things that No Doctor Should Do When a physician is accused of DUI, “substance abuse,” being too loose with narcotic prescriptions, throwing scalpels in the OR, or diddling patients, the response of a state medical board† tends to be swift and definitive. Shoot first, ask questions later. After all, the first responsibility of the board is to the public’s safety, not to preserving...

/ October 3, 2008

Update on the NIH “Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy”

A few days ago, while gathering information for last week’s post about intravenous hydrogen peroxide, I noticed this: ACAM Supports NIH Decision to Suspend TACT Trial September 3, 2008, Laguna Hills, Calif. — The American College for Advancement in Medicine, ACAM today announced its support for the National Institute for Health’s (NIH) decision to suspend patient accrual of the Trial to Assess Chelation...

/ September 26, 2008

“Patient-Centered Care” and the Society for Integrative Oncology

Should Medical Journals Inform Readers if a Book Reviewer can’t be Objective? At the end of last week’s post I suggested that book reviewer Donald Abrams and the New England Journal of Medicine had withheld information useful for evaluating Abrams’ review: that he is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO), the organization of which Lorenzo Cohen, the first editor of the...

/ August 29, 2008

Science, Reason, Ethics, and Modern Medicine, Part 5: Penultimate Words

My Discussion with Dr. P After last week’s post, Dr. Peter Moran answered with more salient points. I’ll spend this week discussing those, because I share Dr. Moran’s “interest in examining the kind of messages we are putting out.” Acknowledging the inequality inherent in his not being the blog author, I’ll offer the last word to Dr. Moran by ending this series* and letting whatever comments he...

/ August 8, 2008

Politics of N of 1 pseudoscience

More Politics Medicine’s ethics and basis in science hang by a thread at times. At least in the US of A. I will present a few examples and illustrate them with correlates from other fields in which decisions with wide effects are sometimes made by the whim of one person. And that’s not just the declaring of war or whatever we call...

/ August 7, 2008

Science, Reason, Ethics, and Modern Medicine, Part 4: is “CAM” the only Alternative? And: the Physician as Expert Consultant

Dr. Moran Weighs In In last week’s post, I dubbed Dr. Peter Moran the “conscience” of SBM, citing his commitment to doing what’s best for individual patients even if, in theory at least, that may involve some manner of benign but fanciful treatments. I countered with my own opinion that honesty and integrity are necessary parts of any discussion with a patient, and...

/ August 1, 2008

Science, Reason, Ethics, and Modern Medicine, Part 3: Implausible Claims and Formal Ethics Statements

The Ethics of Implausible Medical Claims (IMC) In Part 2 of this series* we learned from David Katz, MD, a key member of the Yale School of Medicine’s “integrative medicine” program, that he had been “pushed toward integrative medicine by the needs of [his] patients.” We also learned that Dr. Katz’s rationale for this decision justifies a wide range of quackery—both in principle and in fact. I...

/ July 25, 2008