Sunday, May 22, 2011

House of multi-woo in Catonsville

In Catonsville, you can be advised by a psychic or by the "Crystal & Aura Advisor" or, apparently, shop for a horoscope.

Decisions decisions.

Is one woo better than another? Will each give me the same results?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Not-a-diagnostician David Geier kicked off Maryland Commission on Autism

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, the proponent of a dangerous and untested treatment for children with autism, David Geier, who was on the Maryland Commission on Autism as a "diagnostician," even though he has no education or training that would qualify him to diagnose anyone with anything, was removed from the Commission by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

David Geier was recently charged with practicing medicine without a license.

O'Malley's action came after Geier refused to resign despite a statement from Geier though his attorney that he only worked as an "administrator" in the clinics headed by his father, Dr. Mark Geier, whose license to practice medicine was recently suspended by the Maryland Board of Physicians. Neither David Geier nor his attorney explained how an "administrator" was qualified to serve in the capacity of "diagnostician" on the Commission.

The question remains: how did David Geier ever get to be appointed to the Commission as a "diagnostician" in the first place? And why was there was no public outcry from qualified Commission members about his appointment?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Praying for better local government

I had mixed feelings about the article Praying in Public when I saw it on the front page of the May 14 Baltimore Sun.

In the article, The Sun describes the current practice of several Maryland local government bodies of praying during public meetings. And if that weren't bad enough, in several cases, the prayer is sectarian, offered to the Christian God, not a prayer to a non-denominational generic one-size-fits-most(-if-you-ignore-atheists) god.

I was delighted that The Sun recognized there was an issue worthy of front page coverage.

But I was also appalled that the people we trust to run local governments still apparently see nothing inappropriate about beginning government meetings with any type of prayer, let alone one to "Jesus."

Not only is sectarian prayer insensitive to their constituents who practice a non-Christian religion, but also to non-believers. Yes, Salisbury and Carroll County, you have *gasp* atheists living among you! (But heck, who cares about atheists and how they feel about...well...anything? I mean, atheists should just shut up and be grateful that they're allowed to live in Salisbury and Carroll County and stop persecuting Christians by complaining about prayers being offered at their government's meetings, right?)

But my most basic concern is that we have elected officials who believe things for which there is no evidence and ask for help and guidance from a magical, invisible sky-spirit based on ancient Middle-Eastern mythology. And they're damn proud of it. That's worrisome.

I want my government to be led by people who are critical thinkers, who make decisions based on evidence--and who are aware that, even if some prayers offered at public government meetings may be legal under court decisions, they are still always inappropriate. Always.

Not-a-doctor David Geier charged with practicing medicine without a license

Well, finally.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Maryland Board of Physicians has charged not-a-doctor, not-a-diagnostician David Geier with practicing medicine without a license.

He is the son and business associate of Mark Geier, the physician whose license to practice medicine was recently suspended by the same Maryland board on an emergency basis based on charges that he endangered the lives of children with autism by treating them with dangerous treatments based on junk science, and by diagnosing some children with "precocious puberty," even though the children did not meet the medical criteria for that diagnosis.

Given that at least one of the complaints against David Geier dates back to 2008, what in the world took the Maryland Board of Physicians so long to act? Is this the expedient way Maryland should be acting to protect patients, especially children?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

When is someone who can't diagnose a "diagnostician"?

When is someone who isn't qualified to diagnose autism--or anything else as far as I can tell--a "diagnostician"? And how does that not-qualified-to-diagnose-ician get appointed to the Maryland Commission on Autism as a diagnostician? Especially if that someone promotes dangerous treatments for children with autism, based on junk science? 

One of the side-stories to develop out of The Maryland Board of Physicians suspending the medical license of Dr. Mark Geier is that his son, David Geier, who has a B.A. in biology, and is not a doctor or any other type of professional qualified to diagnose autism, or indeed, any medical condition, is on the Maryland Commission on Autism as its legally required "diagnostician" member.

According to The Baltimore Sun's article about David Geier's position on the Commission, the statute that created the commission did not definite "diagnostician" and the legal definition is "broad." It's not clear from the article who made the claim that the legal definition is "broad," or how broad "broad" legally is, but one can't help but wonder how useful any definition of "diagnostician" is, if it includes someone who is not licensed, nor otherwise qualified, to diagnose anything or anyone.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Maryland State Board of Physicians finally acts against autism non-expert Geier

The Maryland Board of Physicians has finally taken action against Dr. Mark Geier, the Maryland physician who marketed himself as an "autism expert," even though he had no credentials that would qualify him as such, and who treated children with unstudied and potentially dangerous therapies. The Board's order suspended Geier's license to practice medicine in Maryland.

According to an article in today's Baltimore Sun, Geier's lawyer, Joseph A. Schwartz III, is quoted as saying: "If you read the [order], you say, 'Holy God, this is awful.' But if it were so awful, they should have an injured child, and they don't."

Really? That's the legal standard? Doctors can treat children with untested and potentially dangerous therapies based on junk science, misdiagnose them, experiment upon them, and fail to secure the informed consent from the children's parents, but you can't take emergency action against that doctor until you actually have "an injured child"?

While Schwarz claims Geier is not "an immediate threat to patients," in my opinion, he's been a threat to patients since the day he started treating children with autism with treatment protocols that included Lupon and chelation. Given that Geier began his controversial treatments more than five years ago, and his alleged autism treatments were hardly a secret (also see here), why did it take the Board of Physicians so long to stop Geier?

Since Geier's son, David, who is not a doctor, and claims no medical training, allegedly examined and diagnosed at least one patient according to the Board of Physicians' order against Mark Geier, can we also hope to finally see some action taken against him in the near future?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Another voice speaking out against pseudomedicine classes at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Finally, another voice complaining publicly about the University of Maryland School of Medicine teaching quackery pseudo-medicine through its Center for Integrative Medicine!

In Why Medical Schools Should Not Teach Integrative Medicine, Steven Salzberg, a faculty member at the University of Maryland College Park, writes:

"Academic freedom allows professors to proclaim all sorts of wild ideas, including nonsensical ones, but we don’t have to allow them to teach courses with no basis in reality." You'd think that would be a pretty basic standard for any valid educational institution, especially a high-regarded medical school, but apparently not.

Salzberg points out, frankly, that the CIM's "clinical services" such as qigong, reiki, and reflexology are scientific and medical "nonsense." And he asks about CIM's use of homeopathy through its clinical services, "Why isn’t this malpractice? I haven’t figured that out yet." Why indeed?

Why aren't members of the faculty at the Medical School who believe in science and science-based medicine protesting, often and loudly, the teaching of pseudoscience and alternative-to-real-medicine to future doctors at their school? Why is the school allowed to offer classes that make our future doctors dumber, and put their future patients at risk?

And why aren't doctors who work within the University of Maryland Medical System protesting the CIM's providing clinical services that offer pseudo-medicine as valid equivalents of science-based medicine, thereby confusing, misleading, and eventually harming the public? Isn't there an ethical problem in offering pseudo-medicine to patients as if it were real medicine?

The only class in CIM the medical school should be teaching is "Why Complementary and Integrative Medicine is Utter Nonsense."