A vision of the future of medicine

Along with Dr. R. W., I’ve become known for my rather vociferously expressed dismay at the ever increasing infiltration of unscientific and non-evidence-based woo in the form of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) into academic medical centers. Well, thanks to a reader, I’ve seen a vision of the future of American medicine, and it’s frightening. Imagine, if you will, an academic medical center where the infiltration of woo is complete, where all manner of “alternative” modalities are viewed as equal or even superior to our unfeeling and nonwholistic scientific medicine.

Imagine, if you will, homeopathic e.r.:

I don’t think we’re too far from this point, at least in some medical centers. If current trends continue, give it a decade or two. Something to look forward to when I get old and start to need more medical care.


  1. #1 HCN
    November 8, 2007

    Daughter (who was born 13 years ago quickly with barely any intervention because it was “get to hospital, lie down, pop out baby”) is now wondering why I am laughing. After a short explanation she is now back to watching Mythbusters on the DVR.

    This was not the scenario with an older brother who was literally stuck due to his big Dutch head. Had this been an earlier era both her older brother and mother would have been buried instead of hospitalized for a few extra days… her conception would not have even occurred.

    Also, the brother also was also given phenobarbital, and his verbal development would have landed him in an institution had he been born successfully just a decade earlier. He is now completing his first quarter of community college with help from their disability department (he gets to take untimed tests on a computer).

    He also does have the same genetic heart condition that killed one of my aunts, hypertrophic cardiomyopahty. Fortunately this was found out before the usual method, an autopsy after sudden cardiac death, so he is being monitored by a cardiologist who prescribed generic Atenolol. (My aunt died before my father, her brother, was born, this was the 1920s)

    So I am still waiting for some champion of homeopathy (like Squeakywheel) to tell me what homeopathic remedy is better for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

    And I have not even mentioned the seizures the kid had after he was born with his huge Dutch head. So do homeopaths have something better than phenobarbital?

  2. #2 DLC
    November 8, 2007

    I’m upset! they forgot to include the valuable and critically needed finger-pointing of Reiki! Or perhaps I missed it.
    On the other hand, maybe the last time I had a prostate infection it was the water I washed down my pills with that cured it instead of the antibiotic. And if you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to talk to you about.

  3. #3 Nathaniel
    November 8, 2007

    I’ve always had reservations about medical society. I think we’ve become too dependent upon it. But that’s off topic. Homeopathic medicine has some anecdotal basis for it’s use. However, most of what I’ve heard is hogwash. Then again, some of what the established medical community is touting is hogwash too, they just confuse you with charts, numbers, and inflated treats of death.

    Oh, and it’s obvious these people don’t know a whole lot about aura cleansing. I guarantee that an herbal enema will not balance a spiky aura… though it might cause some digestive disturbances and probably an awkward itch.

  4. #4 Mike O'Risal
    November 8, 2007

    One small point; Ouija boards do have a role in legitimate medicine. If you crack someone over the head hard enough with one, it makes for a fine form of anesthesia.

  5. #5 Ex-drone
    November 8, 2007

    I don’t want to beat up on Nathaniel, but a couple of his comments caught my eye.

    I’ve always had reservations about medical society.

    At least, when medical society encounters problems, studies are done, lessons are learned, corrections are implemented and the field progresses. When concerns are expressed about homeopathy, they take you to court.

    Homeopathic medicine has some anecdotal basis for it’s use.

    So does continued belief in alien abductions and the Loch Ness monster. Anecdotal evidence and two dollars will get you a coffee at Starbucks.

  6. #6 PalMD
    November 8, 2007

    Homeopathy has NO evidence supporting it. It has had over a century to try to prove ANY benefit, and has failed to do so. All the anecdotes in the world won’t fix that.

  7. #7 Grumpy Physicist
    November 8, 2007

    Unfortunately, I agree with Orac. I can see how homeopathic nonsense is on the rise.

    Some of it is the “anti-medical-establishment”, and in *some* sense, that’s fine. In the long run, the stupid people will be removed from the gene-pool.

    But, much more dangerously, is that homeopathy is ridiculously cheap (water!) compared with medicine that actually works. Now add skinflint&ignorant voters, politicians, bureaucrats, and bean-counters to the mix and you really have to wonder about the future of medical care in the US.

  8. #8 Rjaye
    November 9, 2007

    Hey, Grumpy, you’re right on, but in the end, homeopathic “therapy” gets expensive when one has to keep taking the ‘water’ in order to deal with whatever ails one, when one course of drugs would probably take care of the ick. Also, since homeopathy doesn’t work, how much work time is lost, how much family time, how much time just living is lost to woo…

    Also, so many people want something to make them feel better NOW, instead of resting and allowing the virus to take its course, or the headache, or the tendonitis…Homeopathy allows people to do something while their own body takes care of itself. It’s too bad people don’t see it when they first take sick, and realize what’s really happening to their bodies when they go through the motions of homeopathy…

    The most useful medical book I ever got was from an insurance company, and is one of the good things insurance companies can do. It listed signs and symptoms of common illnesses and ailments, and what to do to relieve symptoms. It also listed the signs one should go to the doctor.

    It may have been one way the insurance company wanted to cut costs by getting people to take care of themselves instead of popping a pill, but it was also a well written book with good advice, and with information as to (shockers!) what didn’t work (woo).

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