After yesterday’s post entitled ‘What does a holistic doctor do that a traditional doctor doesn’t?‘, I thought it would only be fair to turn the question around and ask: What does a proper doctor do that a holistic healer doesn’t? The answers will upset a lot of practitioners of alternative medicine (SCAM), but so be it.
So, what does a proper doctor do that a holistic healer doesn’t?
I suggest several answers and hope that the readers of this blog will contribute to further points. Many of them center around safeguarding the public:
- Proper doctors avoid confusing or misleading the public with titles they do not have.
- They do have rigorous education and training.
- They avoid making false therapeutic claims.
- They adhere to the ethical standards of their profession.
- They resist the temptation to advertise their services to the consumer.
- They do their best to identify the cause of their patient’s symptoms.
- They treat the causes of disease whenever possible.
- They avoid pretending that they always have all the answers.
- They abide by the rules of evidence-based medicine.
- They are aware that almost any effective treatment comes with adverse effects.
- They try to keep abreast with the rapid advances in medicine.
- They know that a patient is more than a diagnostic label.
- They try to treat patients holistically.
At this stage, I can hear some readers shout in anger:
- Ahh, but that is rubbish!
- I know doctors who are not at all like that!
- You are idealizing your profession!
- This is little more than wishful thinking!
Yes, I know that many patients are disappointed and have had a bad experience with conventional medicine. That is one of the reasons many try SCAM. I know that many doctors occasionally fail to live up to the ideal that I depicted above. And I fear that some do so more often than just occasionally.
This is regrettable and occasionally it is unacceptable. Medicine is populated not by perfect people; it is run by humans like you and me. Humans are fallible. Doctors have bad days just like you and me. If that happens regularly, we need to address the problems that may the cause of the deficit. If necessary, the case has to go before a disciplinary hearing. There are thousands of experts who are dedicated to improving healthcare in the hope of generating progress.
The point I was trying to make is that there is such a thing as an ideal physician. It relies on:
- rigorous training,
- ethical codes,
- post-graduate education,
- swift disciplinary procedures,
- advances brought about through colossal research efforts,
- etc., etc.
Do ‘holistic healers’ offer all of these safeguards?
The sad answer is no.
For those who disagree, let’s briefly look at a recent example.
- Mr. Lawler died because of a tear and dislocation of the C4/C5 intervertebral disc caused by a considerable external force.
- The pathologist’s report also showed that the deceased’s ligaments holding the vertebrae of the upper spine in place were ossified.
- This is a common abnormality in elderly patients and limits the range of movement of the neck.
- There was no adequately informed consent by Mr. Lawler.
- Mr. Lawler seemed to have been under the impression that the chiropractor, who used the ‘Dr’ title, was a medical doctor.
- There is no reason to assume that the treatment of Mr. Lawler’s neck would be effective for his pain located in his leg.
- The chiropractor used an ‘activator’ that applies only little and well-controlled force. However, she also employed a ‘drop table’ which applies a larger and not well-controlled force.
As far as I can see, most of the safeguards and standards that apply to conventional medicine were not in place to safeguard Mr. Lawler. And that includes a timely disciplinary hearing of the case. Mr. Lawler died in 2017! The CCG has been dragging its feet ever since, and, as far as I know, the chiropractor was meanwhile allowed to practise. The HEARING BEFORE THE PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL CHIROPRACTIC COUNCIL has now been scheduled to commence on 19 April 2021.
I know, it’s just an example. But it should make us think.