Posted by: Chris Maloney | September 16, 2013

Peter Lipson And Naturopathic Medicine Week.

English: A graph of age-adjusted percent of ad...

English: A graph of age-adjusted percent of adults who have used complementary and alternative medicine in 2002 in the United States according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know it only matters to those of us within the profession, but the Senate officially recognized Naturopathic Medicine Week.  It will be coming up in October, so stay tuned.  That’s all that really matters from this post, and the rest involves the politics of my profession.  If you’re interested in the battles within medicine, read on.  Otherwise I recommend my Daily Stories For Children blog.

For anyone who follows commemoration weeks, the recognition is broad and wide.  A recent article in the Hill cited hundreds of these commemorations.  If we can have National Dysphagia Awareness Month and National Corvette Day, then we can certainly have Naturopathic Medicine Week.

It’s nice to be recognized, but the reality is that the changing healthcare laws next year will have much more impact on the profession.  Public recognition is a far cry from insurance equality.

But if you read Peter Lipson of Forbes or any of his fellow skeptics, the sky is falling.  If we recognize alternative medicine people might use it and die. Peter took it upon himself to give a practice case out to all those primary care Naturopathic Doctors and concluded -of course- that they weren’t qualified. Oh, and people will die, although he has no studies to show.  (Studies show that people who use both conventional and alternative medicine have better outcomes).

If you take the time to read the comments by the N.D.s, they do a better job than Peter of working up the case and refer appropriately.  But evidently because they didn’t rip the patient open and massage his heart back to normal themselves they don’t meet Peter’s definition of primary care.  Peter’s definition of handling a cardiac case by himself without referral to a cardiologist is not primary care, it’s malpractice.

I’ve dealt with Peter and his ilk for several decades now.  You have very angry men (and they are all men) who are looking for someone to blame.  When I spent months providing them with evidence-based medicine eventually they threw me off their blogs because they don’t want answers or resolution or science.  They want someone to blame.

Ultimately everyone loses when angry medical men take time out of a punishing patient schedule to rant about alternative medicine.  Patients lose out, we lose the possibility of collaborating with the doctor because our patients ask us not to tell him they are also seeing us, and mostly the doctor loses out on the newest and best options for his patients.

In Peter’s case with a heart patient, the man can be stabilized by drugs, but ultimately it will be his diet and lifestyle that kill him.  That’s our bread-and-butter, getting the miraculous cures of compliance by giving patients an hour-and-a-half to discuss the reasons for their choices.  Poor Peter pooh-poohs this as “life coaching.”  No, Peter, that’s what we call doctoring.  It’s why patients choose N.D.s and pay cash rather than coming to you. I suspect they also realize that you are an angry man, and aren’t honest about the number of supplements they are taking. I see this situation all too often and it is never in a patient’s best interest.

I’m sorry that Peter and the skeptics are angry. But my patients come to me because their doctors aren’t able to take the time to solve their problems. In medicine the definition of a primary care doctor is one who cares. It’s hard to do that with your hand on the door.

What I find most frustrating about this situation is that I can see all the mud in the backyard of conventional medicine (see last post about beta-blockers).  But I work very hard not to sling mud when I’m with patients because the issues that confront medicine today are not going to be solved by slinging mud.

We need every single person who cares about healthcare in this country to get behind some fairly massive changes or it isn’t going to work.  Finding someone to blame for the health problems in this country is far too easy.  Finding solutions is the hard part.


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