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nikipedia's avatar

Should it be illegal for alternative medicine practitioners to be the only source of medical care in some situations?

Asked by nikipedia (27481points) June 22nd, 2010

I know we have already been several rounds about complementary and alternative medicine on other threads. I am less interested in talking about whether or not it works, but if you really want to have that argument, I would appreciate holding off until this specific question has been answered:

Suppose a person has a potentially fatal illness that conventional medicine has good but not perfect odds of treating (e.g., some kinds of cancer).

As far as I know, this person can forgo conventional medical treatment completely and choose to be treated either by an alternative medicine practitioner (or not at all).

Also, as far as I know, no therapy that falls under the umbrella of “alternative medicine” has been shown to be equally or more effective than conventional medicine for treating any illness (this is not to say that alternative medicine has never had any palliative or curative effect—just that it has never been shown to be equal or better than conventional medicine).

(If anyone can provide evidence showing either of the previous paragraphs is inaccurate I would be very interested in seeing it.)

So can the alternative medicine practitioner offering this alternative treatment be held liable if the patient dies? Should s/he be held liable?

What if the person doesn’t die? Isn’t this still fraud of some kind?

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24 Answers

Draconess25's avatar

It’s the patients choice. How does there choice affect you?

Draconess25's avatar

And conventional cancer treatment do not have perfect odds.

HungryGuy's avatar

I think a person should have the choice to seek any form of treatment he or she desires.

And I also think that most people should understand that medicine is more of an art than a science, and so doctors shouldn’t be held to perfection.

But I also think that all practitioners, whether actual doctors or alternative practitioners, should have some liability for malpractice or negligence.

nikipedia's avatar

@Draconess25 and @HungryGuy: Let me clarify.

I am NOT talking about prosecuting the patient.

I in no way way meant to imply that the patient should have any legal culpability at all. Zero.

I am referring ONLY to legal consequences for the person performing the alternative therapies.

MaryW's avatar

Personally I have had alternative medicine that worked when conventional did not.
I’ll have to save that . Write to me after the summer.

Should it be illegal for alternative medicine practitioners to be the only source of medical care in some situations?
NO… if the patient is of legal age and contracted for themselves or a minor. The courts have ways of solving the issue for minors. But when an adult contracts a provider of a service it is understood that some things may not work.

So can the alternative medicine practitioner offering this alternative treatment be held liable if the patient dies? Should s/he be held liable?
For Malpractice and negligence only. It is a patients duty to get information on any service provider and to read anything they sign. However, check on malpractice laws in your state.

HungryGuy's avatar

@nikipedia – I think a person offering alternative medical services should have the right to offer and perform those services. But I also think that the provider should be held to some minimum standards of competence and liability. I.e., a scam artist shouldn’t be allowed to get away with offering foot massages in snake oil as a cure for cancer.

TooBlue's avatar

Yes, it should definitely be illegal. It’s negligent for “alternative medicine” to be the only source of medical treatment.

Trillian's avatar

Are you prepared to underwrite the cost of conventional care if a person chooses to spend their money on “alternative” therapy? Especially after having been to a conventional doctor and being told that there is no hope?
It’s all about choice in this country, is it not?
How can you or anyone else attempt to force another person into spending time and money in conventional therapy which also cannot guarantee success?

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think people should be able to choose which type of care they want and that the people providing the care need to be held liable in the even of malpractice, negligence, etc.

The only way I could see a fraud charge brought up would be if an alternative practitioner promised their methods would cure the patient of their disease when they knew that it would not actually cure them and they charged a large amount of money for the “cure”.

Draconess25's avatar

For the record, my aunt got cancer twice. Cervical cancer 1st; she refused treatment & it went away. Years later, she got breast cancer. During the mastectomy, she had a heart attack. She was brain dead for almost a month, until they pulled the plug.

I’m against “conventional” treatment, but I won’t force my beliefs on anyone. I could care less if the rest of humanity died off, & it will be their own fault anyways.

nikipedia's avatar

@Trillian: Again, I am not suggesting prosecuting the person seeking treatment. This is the second clarification and the third time I’ve said this.

Draconess25's avatar

@nikipedia Well, that’s sure as hell what it seems like you’re doing.

nikipedia's avatar

@Draconess25: I am not sure how I can possibly be any more clear. I would like to discuss whether

THE PERSON ADMINISTERING, NOT RECEIVING TREATMENT

should be prosecuted.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I didn’t read it like @nikipedia was suggesting prosecuting the patients, instead that she was questioning if alternative practitioners should be working with conventional practitioners instead of on their own.

Thammuz's avatar

If something goes wrong and somebody sues them, i’d simply force them to perform a double blind test on their methods, at their own expense but monitored by the authorities, and if it turns out they don’t work I’d charge them with fraud and convict them without trial, since the proof that they were payed for services they were not actually providing (curing people) is already on the table (Proof being the double blind test). Easy and inexpensive.

Thammuz's avatar

@Draconess25 nikipedia did write “So can the alternative medicine practitioner offering this alternative treatment be held liable if the patient dies?” So i don’t think it’s fuzzy at all.

Draconess25's avatar

@nikipedia Personally, I don’t think they should be held liable. It was the patient’s choice, & it’s their own damn fault if they get screwed.

Facade's avatar

Only if a regular doctor is held liable for their patients’ death. (I’m not sure of the law)

casheroo's avatar

Agreed @Facade
A doctor or practitioner don’t kill patients..the cancer does. I’m sure a doctor never says “We’re going to 100% beat this” unless it’s possible. And I would hope no one would say “I can cure you!” and use some crap and the person gets worse.
I imagine (or, I guess in my own mind how I would react) that people seek unconventional treatments when the chemo stops working. I mean, hey? it’s worth a shot right? And maybe it doesn’t make them feel sick and miserable, so they just try.

gorillapaws's avatar

These alternative treatments are fraud. In cases where alternative medicine practitioners actively steer people away from treatments that could have prevented the patient’s death, they should be charged with voluntary manslaughter. I have heard many stories about people delaying or forgoing proven treatments in favor of alternative therapies, only to have that decision cost them their lives. It’s a repugnant industry.

If they can prove the efficacy of their treatment in a well-controlled, double-blinded study, then by all means, let them do it, but without such evidence, the types of claims they make need to be put in check.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, unless alternative medicine practitioners send patients to traditional doctors if necessary. Like after a diagnosis of diabetes type 1.

Acupuncture can help people with pain. And we know why: release of endorphines. But a lot of the alternative stuff is total nonsense.

Trillian's avatar

@nikipedia What are you using bold with me for? I never said anything about who was to be prosecuted. I simply wondered who you expected to pay for the cost of a choice that a person didn’t want. I said how are you gonna force someone to pay the cost of a choice you think they should make?

nikipedia's avatar

@Trillian: I never said anything about forcing people to make a choice they didn’t want. Please re-read the question.

Trillian's avatar

@nikipedia You said “Should it be illegal for alternative medicine practitioners to be the only source of medical care in some situations?“and;
”...a potentially fatal illness that conventional medicine has good but not perfect odds of treating (e.g., some kinds of cancer). and;
“As far as I know, this person can forgo conventional medical treatment completely and choose to be treated either by an alternative medicine practitioner (or not at all).”
Since these treatments are already available, how would you suggest that they be regulated? Who gets to decide “which situations”? You cannot now try to take away from free enterprise and suggest to people “You must seek conventional treatment, even though you prefer this alternative therapy.”
Do you see what I’m saying? Yyou want to know if it should be somehow illegal, and I say that you are suggesting a further intrusion of the federal government into our life choices and what a complete nightmare it would be trying to regulate something like this. It could be argued with lawmakers for years just trying to decide on appropriate language and anyone with a good working knowledge of English could still get around any law out there. And then you’d have to decide if this were to be regulated state to state, or would it be federal? We’re irritated and in disagreement right now about the government telling us about labeling and adding salt to our food. Can you imagine the uproar that something this big would cause? You want to take away choices that people now have and force them into what YOU think they should do, even when you admit that not all conventional treatment is efficacious.
I am answer ing your question in another way. It cannot be done. Alternative treatment exists and it works for many for whom conventional treatments do not. You can not sue a Doctor for failing to heal someone unless he is proven to be negligent. You could apply the same thing to any alternative healer, but it would have to be on a case-by-case basis, not something sweeping and across the board.
And you ignored my original question and answered to a position which I did not initiate or acknowledge. It sounds to me like you want alternative treatment practitioners to be eliminated across the board. This takes away choices for people. If I misinterpreted I here beg leave to apologize, but my question stands, as does my answer.

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