The curious case of the unqualified qualication

4 08 2009

According to 6minutes.com.au the Chiropractor’s Association of Australia has asked people to stop practicing chiropract. Well, particular people. Doctors in particular. Because they are not qualified enough.

Oh, wait we are only at the entrance to this rabbit hold.

According to the CAA it takes a minimum of 5-years to become a chiropractor, while a doctor can just upskill with a correspondence course from the RACPG.

The article also suggests that tha CAA candidly admits that there are risks associated with spinal manipulation. I wonder if the wider chiropractic community will accept these risks are potential (and any risk will not be wholly mitigated by the presence of trained ‘professional’).

Now while the CAA almost seems laughable here, they are actually attempting to enforce exactly what the evidence-based medicine community has asked of them: clean up their own house. They are accepting responsiblity for the safe practice of chiropract by all practicioiners, by attempting to get some training standards in place.

Rather then laughing this off perhaps the EBM community should be asking – why are all these actual GPs and MDs engaging in an unproven non-reality based mode of practice with established associated risks, and why is the RACPG encouraging it?

I can think of a couple of weak reasons, can you?

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Homeopathic A&E

20 07 2009

Hattip Max from the Brisbane Atheists Meetup.

From the Mitchell & Webb Look, BBC.





Oils ain’t oils: the essentials

2 06 2009

ResearchBlogging.orgYou may have noticed my general feeling about so-called “alternative medicine” is that there is no “alternative” to medicine. One of my friends puts it another way:

Q. What do you call an alternative medicine that works?

A. Medicine.

There is no grand pharmaceutical conspiracy against natural remedies. Once a treatment demonstrates value to medical science, it will become accepted as medicine. That’s why, while you last month science bloggers descended upon a laughably flawed acupuncture study flouted as proof of effect and tore it to pieces, I doubt there’ll be a similar response at this a new international study currently in print that shows essential oils may have a role to play in combating infections caused by multi-resistant microbes.

It’s actually quite a well done study, with interesting results that provide an opportunity for the complementary medicine industry to clean up it’s act and get on board with whole evidence-based medicine paradigm, rather than remaining in the realm of snake oil and shamanism.

Read the rest of this entry »





Under the house is not a cancer clinic

26 04 2009

The definition of quackery – offering cure for cancers bought of the internet being supplied by untrained staff in someone’s garage.

Choice quotes:

“We haven’t announced it yet, we haven’t told the world, it’s very secret.” (Naturopaths don’t care about curing cancer, they care about making money).

“It’s not a garage, Chris, it’s under the house*, okay” (In response to why she was not operating but in her “backyard, garage”).

You’ll all be quite thankful that successful investigation and prosecution has seen Ms Newlands fined $12,000 and banned from “making any claims she is able to treat, cure, or benefit any person suffering from cancer”.

I must say, it is good to see some action, but it is awfully lenient (especially seeing as she was charging $2,000 per client). And I don’t think I’m alone in being a little perturbed that making such claims (when not a registered medical practitioner) is not already an offense of some kind.

(Press release and more info at Sceptic’s book of Pooh-Pooh)

*For those of you not familiar with Queensland architecture. Most older “Queenslander” style homes are built up on stilts to promote airflow. “Under the house” is usually an semi-enclosed space not fully protected from the elements that can be used as a storage area, carport, laundry and/or tool shed.





Anti-vaccinationists winning the war against healthy children

21 09 2008

Re-emergence of diseases like measles and mumps amongst Canadian communities (see Respectful Insolence) is starting to show what the totally unfounded (see The Stats Blog)  fear surrounding the MMR and other children’s vaccines has the propensity to cause.

I also had a link to similar outbreaks emerging in the UK. Outbreaks in other parts of the world are also likely to happen.

Part of reading this stories has helped me learn another horrible fact about the ramifications of less children being vaccinated. It does not just affect children who aren’t being vaccinated. Vaccination relies upon a concept called “herd immunity”.

We all have heard how vaccines aren’t 100% effective in the first place. This is an anti-vaccinationists selling point. Every time you are exposed to the contagion there is a chance of your vaccine failing. Think of it like brakes on your car, you can only be in so many “near-miss” situations before you bang something.

The idea of mass vaccination is to reduce the number of gambles. If every child is vaccinated, there is virtually no entry point for the contagion to enter your community. Every unvaccinated child is a bad driver on the road with no brakes. Not only are they relying on the brakes on your car to reduce danger to their children, they are an additional risk that your children need to avoid.

Some savvy parents are taking this into mind. Daycares that allow unvaccinated children (or do not have data on enrolment vaccines) are seeing health informed parents remove their children to other institutions that provide. The link I lost had a story of a mother who found out one of her children’s friends mothers had bought into the anti-vaccinist screed – and promptly stopped their children playing. A similar incident is found on MSNBC:

Karey Williams [47, Chicago] never thought a parenting decision would come between her and a good friend. The two had known one another for a decade, supported each other through infertility treatment and had their first babies around the same time. But when she told the friend that she had stopped vaccinating her daughter at age 1, the relationship abruptly ended. “She said, ‘Well then, your child can’t come into my house,’”

You might think this is harsh. But these are serious deadly diseases, no parent should be reprimanded for ensuring the health of their children. Lifelong complications (such as deafness) are very very common amongst victims of these diseases.

The positive impact of mass vaccination has a very clear and positive record. Science-Based Medicine has put up the stats for major vaccines. All of them have efficacy rates of over 80%, and save thousands of lives every year (if not more). And none of them have autism as a proven side effect. Science-Based Medicine’s author, Mark Crislip also points out that if GP/Big Pharma was really some sort of evil diabolical institution, they’d be joining the anti-vaccinists. More vaccines, means less disease. Less disease, means less business.

“I am an Infectious Disease doctor. I make a living from treating diagnosing and treating infections. I don’t make dime one if people do not get infected, so I am against any and all vaccines as they cut into my bottom line” – Mark Crislip, Science-Based Medicine weblog

Mandatory safety measures such as bicycle helmets, seat belts, standardised testing of car breaks are important for road safety. Shouldn’t similar safety measures be mandated for children’s health and safety.