Homeopathy is harmless; after all, the typical homeopathic remedy contains no active ingredient! Such claims can be seen abundantly. Sadly, however, they are not true. The remedies might be mostly (but, depending on potency and proper quality control, not totally) risk-free, yet homeopathy can and does kill patients. There is a depressingly long list of fatalities to prove this point. And here is another sad case that confirms it; this short article provides the essential facts:
The parents of a seven-year-old boy who died after they decided to treat his otitis only with homeopathy were convicted of manslaughter Thursday.
Francesco, from Cagli near Pesaro, died on May 27 2017 from bilateral bacterial otitis.
His parents were found guilty of complicity in aggravated culpable manslaughter.
They were given a suspended sentence of three months in jail.
The parents entrusted their son’s care to Pesaro homeopathic doctor Massimiliano Mecozzi, who is set to go on trial on September 24.
The homeopath advised treatment with homeopathic products instead of the antibiotics which would have saved him, the court found.
Francesco died after the otitis degenerated into encephalitis.
Another article offers a few more details about the case:
Francesco suffered from otitis media. The doctor Massimiliano Mecozzi (55) treated the child exclusively with homeopathic remedies. When the parents brought Francesco to the hospital a few days later, it was already too late: The boy died soon afterwards. According to “Corriere della Sera”, the parents decided to not give their child antibiotics since he was only three years old. Francesco’s illness had begun with a severe cold and fever, and his frequented the homeopathic doctor Mecozzi who discouraged the parents from bringing their child to a hospital. “He scared them by claiming that the doctors would give medicaments to Francesco that would make him deaf or would damage his liver. He promised them that Francesco will recover soon”, said grandfather Maurizio to “Il Mattino”.
But Francesco’s condition worsened over the course of the following days, and the infection spread to the head. When the parents brought their son to the emergency admission, a festering abscess had already formed. Francesco was brought to a hospital in Ancona for an emergency operation. An antibiotic shock therapy didn’t help at this point either, and the child died.
According the “Corriere”, the physician had a questionable career: After having been temporarily expelled from the physician’s association, he even worked as a doorman and as an allrounder in a supermarket. Then he came into contact with a religious community in Varese, whose founders have been accused of fraud. When the physician’s association in Pesaro inquired to his occupation as a homeopath, Mecozzi replied: “I have no interest in telling you about it.”
And a further article adds even more details: the 7 year-old boy was hospitalized in an intensive care unit at the Hospital Salesi of Ancona. The child, born in Cagli (Pesaro), had been treated with homeopathy instead of antibiotics and had arrived in hospital in a serious condition. The child subsequently went into a neurological coma; an EEG revealed the absence of electrical activity, and brain death was certified. The death occurred as the result of an ear infection treated with homeopathy.
Such cases are tragic but (hopefully!) rare. They are due to the neglect (failure to provide adequate medical care) by a homeopath. Obviously, such neglect does not always have to be fatal. I would guess that milder forms of medical neglect through homeopathy are, in fact, extremely common (nobody knows the exact figure). One could even argue that, by definition, homeopathic treatment amounts to medical neglect which falls into three overlapping categories:
- In the majority of cases, it has no or very little symptomatic consequences. For instance, if a homeopath prescribes a homeopathic remedy for a self-limiting condition, such as a common cold, and the patient soon improves due to the benign nature of the condition (often thinking that homeopathy was effective). There is, however, invisible harm such as the expense of the remedies and the false trust into a bogus therapy created by this experience (which might prove to be extremely harmful later on).
- In many instances, the neglect does cause unnecessary suffering of patients because the optimally effective treatment of their disease is not administered or delayed. Many doctor homeopaths would argue that this is not usually true because, for such patients, they also prescribe conventional treatments in parallel. But even if this were true, these clinicians would still cause harm through the waste of resources.
- In a sizable but unknown number of cases, homeopathy does cause very serious harm and, as the above case shows, even deaths.
The point I am trying to make is this: we usually only hear of the dramatic cases of neglect through homeopathy (or other forms of ineffective SCAM). What we tend to forget is that such cases are only the extreme end of a much wider spectrum, and that all clinicians who prescribe homeopathy are guilty of neglect. The symptomatic harm done ranges from almost zero to 100%, and the damage caused is merely a question of degree.
Before some homeopathy-fan comments, “but the harm from conventional therapies is sooooooooo much more significant!!!”, let me stop you in your tracks by recommending you consider the concept of risk/benefit balance.