Disappointing, but not surprising. In what’s been called a thinly veiled rebuke of physician media star Mehmet Oz, MD, delegates at this month’s meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) supported resolutions that endeavor to hold physicians responsible for advice they dispense via the media.
One of the resolutions, sponsored by residents and medical students, including third-year med student Benjamin Mazer, calls for the AMA to develop ways to discipline “wayward” (their word, not mine) physicians. It also, according to Medscape, “directs the AMA to go on record denouncing the spread of dubious information” and “affirming the need for physicians in the media to adhere to evidence-based medicine.”
According to an interview with Vox, the AMA will develop guidelines explaining the “disciplinary pathways that people can use if they see a doctor promoting something that seems dubious on air or in the press. ‘This could include legal proceedings, or state medical boards that control a doctor’s license,’” explained Mazer.
The original proposal specifically mentioned The Dr. Oz Show, under fire for allegedly offering non-scientific advice to its audience, but by removing the reference the proposition could be broadened to go after any physician who publicly doesn’t tow the AMA party line. Although no names are mentioned, this AMA proposal could potentially encourage state medical boards to scrutinize such prominent physicians as Andrew Weil, Mark Hyman, Deepak Chopra, Joseph Mercola, Christiane Northrup, and David Perlmutter as well as doctors treating allegedly controversial diagnoses including chronic Lyme disease, candida overgrowth syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities, and leaky gut.
The AMA stance appears to be moving toward this idea: If we didn’t learn about it during medical training, it doesn’t exist. If we don’t know it, and you say you do, you’re a quack.
To refresh your memory about Dr. Oz, though he’s been referred to as a health guru, that’s a stretch and he’d likely agree. He’s highly visible, but the Dalai Lama he’s not. In fact, he’s just one of a relatively small group of nutritionally oriented physicians who, through electronic and print media, have educated the public about another side of health care.
The undeniably narrow and limited medical education your conventionally trained physician experiences includes nothing on nutritional medicine or alternative therapies. And yet conventional doctors everywhere are also taught that there’s only one system that works and that you should be protected from most everything else.
Whether you were a homeopath or herbalist in the 19th century, a chiropractor or osteopath at the dawn of the 20th, or an integrative, holistic/functional physician in the 21st, the conventional medicine stance has been, and will likely remain, that their way is the right way. Anything else is fraud and any physician spreading misinformation deserves punishment.
The naiveté of AMA group-think is appalling
Keep in mind the bright boys and girls entering medical school got there not only by being smart, but also obedient. Don’t make waves. Don’t think outside the box and never, ever, challenge the status quo.
Mazer declared “The public is only going to trust us if we call out doctors who are harming others.”
Well, he’s young. I figure it will take him a few years to learn that the products of Big Pharma are vastly more dangerous than nutritional supplements and that chiropractic and acupuncture are safer and usually more effective than spine surgery. Dr Oz’s treatments, says Mazer, sipping the AMA Kool-Aid, aren’t necessarily harmful in and of themselves, but they distract patients from “proven medications.”
I see a bright future for young Ben as he kisses and claws his way into the upper echelons of the US healthcare system.
A tempest in the Oz-pot
This year’s flurry of concern in part had to do with Dr Oz’s perfectly reasonable statements about GMO labeling. He simply asked the food industry to inform the public of their presence. Label the food and let the buyer decide. This is already being done in many countries—why not here?
In a letter calling for his resignation, four of ten Columbia University signers were past or present officers of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), an industry-funded organization that opposes mandatory GMO labeling, citing lack of a proven threat, adding that “labeling would confuse the public.” Despite its righteous-sounding name, the ACSH is a seriously shady organization, apparently “supporting” whoever sends them the largest check.
ACSH also supports fracking and the widespread use of herbicides. The ACSH has defended asbestos, DDT, and Agent Orange and has labeled environmentalists and consumer groups terrorists. Ralph Nader calls ACSH “a consumer front organization for its business backers.” Is there no limit to what money can buy?
Youth discouraging dissent
It pains me to report that the intense AMA policy deliberations were ignited by a youth movement in organized medicine. Mazer himself runs a blog dedicated to exposing “quacks in the media,” urging physicians and patients alike to report alternative medicine “misinformation” and “misdeeds.”
Since this reported information is essentially hearsay, Mazer apparently misses the irony that the research standards he expects from alternative medicine (peer reviewed, evidence-based) are much more demanding than the gossipy “facts” he’s collecting on his blog. However, he’s young and ambitious and he probably loves the very limelight that Dr. Oz currently enjoys.
You might want to know that the two AMA resolutions passed by an overwhelming voice vote. No, AMA Youth didn’t shout “Sieg heil,” but any loud voice votes that suppress dissenters bring to mind chilling scenes from 1935’s “Triumph of the Will,” the go-to film of the Third Reich.
Hitler Youth were big on unanimous voice votes too. Dissent was discouraged.
David Edelberg, MD