Respectful Insolence

It may take a long time, but sometimes justice does eventually move to act against a wrong:

A Butler County doctor will stand trial on charges he caused the death of a 5-year-old autistic boy by negligently ordering a controversial treatment, a district judge ordered Thursday.

Dr. Roy Kerry of Portersville ordered chelation therapy – which the federal Food and Drug Administration approves for treating acute heavy-metal poisoning, but not for autism – on Abubakar Tariq Nadama in 2005. During a third treatment, on Aug. 23, the boy went into cardiac arrest and died.

Kerry, 69, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment.

A pediatrician called to testify during Kerry’s preliminary hearing yesterday accused him of “extreme recklessness” because he prescribed the wrong chemical, and because he ordered it in an IV push — administering all the medication intravenously at once — rather than injecting it over the course of several hours.

It still irritates me that this whole “wrong medication” thing is being repeated. It was more than the case of the “wrong medication” given by IV push, instead of over several hours. It was much more than this, and I blame the CDC for foolishly having said this in the first place. What this was was a case of using a therapy that has no sound scientific or clinical rationale why it should work and no scientific evidence that it does work to do anything to relieve the symptoms of autism, leading to Dr. Kerry’s exposing a five year old child to all of the risks of chelation therapy, with no potential for any benefit. Worse, Kerry is still practicing medicine:

Lindsay said Kerry is still practicing medicine. The Pennsylvania Department of State has charged him with practicing medicine negligently and unprofessional conduct. He faces suspension, revocation or restriction of his medical license and fines of up to $10,000 for each violation.

That Dr. Kerry still has a license to practice medicine after his clean kill of an autistic boy is beyond outrageous. Even if you buy into the argument that his only mistake was to administer the medication incorrectly, he should have been stripped of his medical license two years ago:

His attorney, Al Lindsay, said Kerry should not be tried on criminal charges because he did not intentionally harm the boy.

Carrasco said ignorance is not a defense.

“I cannot comprehend someone using (the chemical) in an IV push for this,” said Carrasco, whom prosecutors called as a pediatric and child maltreatment expert. “How can you not know? You cannot be licensed to practice medicine if you don’t know why medications are being used.”

Exactly. Even when it comes to medications that have scientific and clinical evidence of efficacy, a physician should not be prescribing them unless he understands how they work and what the expected and possible adverse effects are. When a patient dies because of a physician’s double ignorance (namely that the medication should never have been used in the first place for the condition being treated and that he botched its administration in a way that killed the patient), there is no forgiveness. There should be no second chance.

Comments

  1. #1 Justin Moretti
    November 16, 2007

    I agree with you 100% – he should be nailed and chelation therapy should be nailed at the same time, but it’s a lot messier to put the whole Autism/chelation business on trial than it is to nail him for his complete incompetence anyway while prescribing “appropriately” in the context of autism quackery.

    I look at it this way: if you nail him for incompetence for chelating in the first place, you have to deal with all the conspiracy nuts. If you nail him for incompetence within the context of a woo-justified treatment decision, the conspiracy nuts have no leg to stand on. It involves making a ooncession for now (a difficult one, I concur) but it means that his career can be put to the sword a lot more easily and more lives probably saved.

    The fact that he’s still practising surprises and sickens me.

  2. #2 daedalus2u
    November 16, 2007

    Since this is a criminal trial, the defendant will have the oportunity to call witnesses on his behalf. Presumably those witnesses will include “experts” on the use of chelation to treat autism.

    Will the cult of chelation circle the wagons and defend one of their own? Or will they cut him lose to twist and spin?

    If he does attempt to show that chelation is “standard practice” we may find out how some other chelating doctors actually do it. Unless they take the 5th.

  3. #3 PalMD
    November 16, 2007

    Perhaps it can be chelation’s “Kitzmiller” moment.

  4. #4 Mike P
    November 16, 2007

    Worse, Kerry is still practicing medicine

    I don’t know… you’d think if he was practicing, eventually he’d get better.

  5. #5 Prometheus
    November 16, 2007

    Orac,

    I can’t believe that the chelationistas are still using that ridiculous “medication error” canard.

    Roy Kerry only used NaEDTA, only stocked NaEDTA and never, ever had CaEDTA in his office. That’s from his own statement to the Medical Board investigator.

    It’s not an “inadvertent medication switch” – he never, ever used the “right” medication (“right” in the sense that it is an alternate standard treatment for lead poisoning). The death of Abubakar Tariq Nadama was a predictable outcome of Roy Kerry’s delusions about the nature of chelation.

    The medication that killed Abubakar Tariq Nadama was given in exactly the amount ordered by Roy Kerry and by exactly the route ordered by Roy Kerry.

    And it killed poor Abubakar Tariq Nadama exactly as the black box warning on the product insert said it would when given IV push.

    So, where’s the mistake?

    Well, Roy Kerry made a mistake in believing his own bull**t about chelation, for starters.

    The Pennsylvania medical board made a mistake in not jerking Roy Kerry’s medical license before he killed someone. And, by the way, why hasn’t his license been suspended so that he doesn’t kill somebody else?

    Indeed, there were a lot of mistakes made on the road to Mr. Nadama’s tragic death, but no “medication errors”.

    There are times when negligence rises to such an egregious level that it is criminal. This, I believe, is one of those times.

    Prometheus

  6. #6 DLC
    November 16, 2007

    Criminally negligent homicide. It should be a slam dunk of a prosecution. This guy should be stripped of his license, fined and Jailed. He’s lucky. Hammurabi had worse punishments.

  7. #7 Bartholomew Cubbins
    November 17, 2007

    Keep in mind that this is just one guy. There are plenty of Kerry clones under the DAN! banner out there seeing patients today.

    I keep wondering how many close calls happen every day with these guys and their science-free medical experimentation.

    To that end, it appears some insane person and their hardly-above-atmospheric-pressure balloon had a compressor start to burn and smoke entered into the “chamber” (called HBOT but an oxygen tent, really). How close of a call was that one?

    What about the kids who go into shock because of IgG quackery? Megadoses of water-insoluble vitamins? Urine injections? Other “novel chelators”? IV saunas to sweat it out? Chronic doses of anti-virals and antibiotics?

    The quackery… it can do nothing except cost big bucks but it also can hurt and it can kill.

  8. #8 HCN
    November 17, 2007

    Don’t forget that some kids were injured but not killed by chelation. Lawsuits by parents of kids damaged by chelation closed down a clinic in Georgia:
    http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/edelson.html

    There are perhaps other parents who are upset over being bilked by purveyors of dubious therapies like cranialsacral, transdermal DSMA, homeopathetics, super supplements and other things (like a pressurized airbag) but are too embarrassed to admit their stupidity.

  9. #9 HCN
    November 18, 2007

    BC said “There are plenty of Kerry clones under the DAN! banner out there seeing patients today.”

    You (and I) forgot to mention that Kerry only got his DAN! certification AFTER he killed the little autistic boy with chelation. (though that does NOT escuse the State of Pennsylvania for allowing the quack to practice medicine for the last two years!)

  10. #10 HCN
    May 6, 2008

    Sigh, the charges were dropped… even though the poor boy died a horrible painful death just because he was autistic:
    http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/state/pennsylvania/20080506_ap_apnewsbreakchargesdroppedinautisticboysdeath.html