Consumer Health Digest #05-07
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 15, 2005
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Aetna evaluates three more questionable procedures. Aetna Insurance Company, which plays a leading role in evaluating whether or not procedures are sufficiently developed to warrant insurance coverage, has issued more Clinical Policy Bulletins (CPBs) related to questionable health approaches:
- CPB 0049: Nutritional Counseling. Aetna considers nutritional counseling medically necessary for chronic disease states in which dietary adjustment has a therapeutic role, when it is prescribed by a physician and furnished by a registered dietician, licensed nutritionist, or other qualified licensed health professional recognized under an insurance plan. However, nutrition counseling is considered "not medically necessary" for chronic fatigue syndrome, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or other conditions that have not been shown to be nutritionally related.
- CPB 0029: Thermography. Aetna considers thermography (measurement of temperature variations at the body surface) experimental and investigational because available medical literature indicates thermography to be an ineffective diagnostic technique. The devices mentioned include the Nervoscope, Temp-O-Scope, and Neurocalometer, all of which have had widespread use by chiropractors. The CBP also discusses breast-cancer screening.
- CBP 0696: Suit Therapy for Cerebral Palsy. Aetna considers Adeli Suit or TheraSuit therapy to be experimental and investigational for patients with cerebral palsy or other neuromuscular conditions because it has not been proven effective. (The devices use elastic bands to provide resistive exercises to specific muscles.) Quackwatch has additional details.
"Biological dentist" disciplined again. The Arizona Board of Dental Examiners has ordered Terry J. Lee, D.D.S. to pay a $4,000 penalty and stop treating patients for 45 days. In July 2004, the board charged him with unprofessional conduct by failing to maintain adequate records. The complaint was filed after an audit of his charts found that (a) he did not record evaluations for many patients for whom he provided periodontal (gum) treatment; (b) he administered intravenous vitamin C infusions without documenting any diagnosis or health history justifying their use; and (c) he made notations of "detox" without sufficiently identifying what it is or why he believed it was necessary. The audits were part of a process that began in 1999 when the board placed him on 5 years' probation with quarterly audits of diagnosis, treatment, planning skills, and recordkeeping. Lee has the right to appeal the current order, but if he does, he is unlikely to prevail.
Holding therapy stopped in Utah. The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing has obtained a consent agreement under which social worker Jennie Murdock Gwilliam will stop practicing "holding therapy," have her therapy sessions supervised for three years, and take classes in ethics and boundary violations. The agreement states that she may use restraint techniques only to protect a client or another person from physical injury and may not use "restraint techniques for therapeutic purposes." In 2002, the state petitioned to revoke the licenses of Gwilliam and a like-minded colleague, Larry VanBloem, for allegedly laying on top of children who were restrained. VanBloem died in December 2004 an auto accident. [Hyde J. Utah jettisons holding therapy: State orders last practitioner to end the controversial practice. Deseret Morning News, Feb 11, 2005] Supporters of holding therapy claims that holding, poking, and prodding children that through Mainstream critics consider the treatment to be a form of child abuse. The holding is a component of "attachment therapy," which has been implicated in the death of several children. [Maloney SB. Be Wary of attachment therapy. Quackwatch, July 24, 2003] On February 14, the Colorado Supreme Court refused to consider the appeal of Julie Ponder, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence for her role in the suffocation of 10-year-old Candace Newman during a "rebirthing" session in which she was wrapped in a sheet and crushed by four adults who lay on top of her. Candace's death led to laws banning "rebirthing" therapy in Colorado and North Carolina. [Associated Press. Colorado Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in N.C. girl's "rebirthing" death. Winston-Salem Journal, Feb 14, 2005]
Allstate reports results of antifraud campaign. Allstate Insurance Company has announced that during 2004, judges and juries around the country awarded the company more than $30 million in damages resulting from insurance fraud schemes against the company—the result of a campaign Allstate began in 2001 to go after the pocketbooks of fraud perpetrators in court. Since that time, the company has gotten more than $55 million in judgments against criminals that range from individuals to sophisticated organized crime syndicates. Unfortunately, bankruptcies and money laundering make it difficult to collect such awards. Allstate says that only $5.24 million out of the $30.81 million awarded in 2004 has been recovered.[Fraudsters Ordered To Pay Allstate More Than $30 Million in '04. Allstate press release, Feb 14, 2005]
American Biologics receives another FDA warning letter. The FDA has ordered American Biologics of Chula Vista, California, to stop making illegal claims that AB-fem Glandular, AB-Male Glandular, Flu Solve™, Candida Albicans, Ultra Brain Power™, Bronchostem™, Calcium A.E.P., Pancreas Glandular, Pituitary Glandular, and Sub-Adrene™ Adrenal Cortex Extract are effective against various diseases and conditions. [Walker SJ. Warning letter to Carol Bradford. Nov 13, 2004] The company is part of a network that includes a Mexican cancer clinic, the Bradford Research Foundation, and the near-defunct Committee for Freedom of Choice in Medicine, which, during the 1970s, was a major force in promoting legalization of the quack cancer remedy laetrile. The company received FDA regulatory letters in 1986 and 1988 but has marketed dubious products continuously since the mid-1970s. Quackwatch has a detailed report on the Bradford network.
Chiropractic book republished. The second edition of Dr. Ludmil A. Chotowski's Chiropractic: The Greatest Hoax of the Century?, which has been unavailable for several months, has been reprinted. The 210-page book contains a detailed overview plus accounts of the author's personal investigations. The book lists for $14.95, but copies are available (U.S. only) for $10 each or 5 for $40 postpaid from Quackwatch, P.O. Box 1747, Allentown, PA 18105.
This page was posted on February 15, 2005.