Respectful Insolence

Now that’s what I’m talking about! This is what we need to see more of! A father whose child underwent the quackery that is the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) protocol is suing the doctors who administered it for malpractice:

The father of a 7-year-old Chicago boy who was diagnosed as a toddler with autism has sued the Naperville and Florida doctors who treated his son, alleging they harmed the child with “dangerous and unnecessary experimental treatments.”

James Coman and his son were featured last year in “Dubious Medicine,” a Tribune series that examined risky, unproven treatments for autism based on questionable science.

The defendants — family-practice physicians Dr. Anjum Usman of Naperville and Dr. Daniel Rossignol of Melbourne, Fla. — are prominent in the Defeat Autism Now! movement, which promotes many of the alternative treatments the Tribune scrutinized. Both have spoken to groups of parents at autism conferences and trained other physicians in their methods.

Coman alleged in Cook County Circuit Court that Usman and Rossignol prescribed “medically unnecessary and unjustified” chelation treatments, designed to force the body to excrete toxic metals, even though the child did not suffer from heavy metal poisoning. The treatments carry a risk of kidney failure, the lawsuit alleges.

“This is a big business, and there are a lot of people who are willing to put aside the safety of children to make money off of scared, desperate parents,” Coman said in an interview.

I’ve uploaded a copy of the complaint in PDF format for your perusal here.

Indeed it is big business to be bilking the parents of autistic children of considerable sums of money to use pseudoscientific “treatments” based largely on the scientifically discredited idea that autism is some form of “vaccine injury” or “toxicity” due to a combination of vaccines and environmental “toxins” (almost always vaguely defined or completely undefined). As a result, children are subjected to potentially dangerous treatments like chelation therapy, which can kill when it goes wrong, designed to “detoxify” the heavy metals that are supposedly causing the child’s autism. Coman alleges a whole host of unscientific and unsupportable “tests” by Doctor’s Data and “therapies” by Drs. Usman and Rossignol that, in their totality, are truly horrifying. Get a load of just a fraction of what’s in the complaint:

25. During the same period of time from late December 2006 through mid-October 2007, Defendant ROSSIGNOL continued his telephone consultations with A.J.’s mother and diagnosed, without ever seeing or examining A.J., and although he diagnosed a myriad of conditions, including Minamata disease and encephalopathy (2/7/2007), toxic effects of mercury and its compounds and inflammation of the brain (6/1/2007), toxic effects of mercury and its compounds, encephalopathy, autoimmune disease, and nutritional deficiency (6/19/2007), toxic effects of mercury and its compounds, encephalopathy, and autoimmune disease (10/2/2007), ROSSIGNOL did not diagnose autism.

26. During the same period of time from late December 2006 through mid-October 2007, and based on his diagnoses, Defendant ROSSIGNOL prescribed Methyl B-12 injectable medication (2/9/2007), Ferrous sulfate elixir (2/9/2007), DMPS suppositories for rectal chelation, Spironolactone (6/1/2007), NAC transdermal (6/1/2007), DMPS suppositories (5/5 and 6/4/2007), Vitamin C injectable vials (10/2/2007), NAC injectable vials (10/2/2007), EDTA injectable vials (10/2/2007), Nystatin (10/2/2007), oral Spironolactone (10/2/2007), Glutathione injectable vials (10/2/2007), and DMPS injectable vials (10/2/2007), some of which medications were manufactured, distributed, and/or sold to A.J.’s parent by Defendant CREATION’S OWN.

[...]

28. On or about October 24, 2007, Defendant USMAN commenced IV chelation therapy upon A.J. (based on her diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity) and following a protocol developed by Defendant ROSSIGNOL (based on his diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity). At Defendant USMAN’s direction and under her supervision, chelation therapy was performed on A.J. using EDTA as the chelating agent combined with Vitamin C, GSH (a drug approved only for the treatment HIV) and DMPS (a non-FDA approved drug), on November 7, 2007, November 28, 2007, December 5, 2007, December 19, 2007, January 2, 2008, January 9, 2008, January 23, 2008, January 30, 2008, February 13, 2008, February 28, 2008, March 11, 2008, March 27, 2008, April 3, 2008, April 10, 2008, April 17, 2008, April 24, 2008, April 30, 2008, May 8, 2008, May 14, 2008, May 21, 2008, May 29, 2008, June 5, 2008, June 11, 2008, September 17, 2008, October 1, 2008, October 8, 2008, October 16, 2008, October 22, 2008, October 30, 2008, November 6, 2008, November 12, 2008, November 19, 2008, December 11, 2008, December 17, 2008, January 5, 2009, January 19, 2009, February 5, 2009, February 16, 2009, March 4, 2009, March 19, 2009, and April 2, 2009.

All of this occurred without Dr. Rossignol ever seeing or examining the patient. It should be noted that Mr. Coman and his son were one of the parents and children featured in Trine Tsouderos’s excellent expose on autism quackery last year entitled Autism treatments: Risky alternative therapies have little basis in science, which I blogged about when it was first published. Basically, Coman opposed all the dubious treatments, correctly viewing most of them as quackery, and his wife was the one subjecting Coman to them. The dispute erupted into a bitter custody battle. When Coman was interviewed for the previous story, he struck me as a reasonable man in a very bad situation:

James Coman says he is so concerned about the possible long-term effects of his son’s treatments, including chelation, that he filed complaints with state medical boards against the boy’s two Defeat Autism Now! doctors, Dr. Anjum Usman of Naperville and Dr. Daniel Rossignol of Melbourne, Fla.

“I worry very much,” Coman said as his son played nearby with his younger brother and a neighbor’s children. “There may be latent physical harm,” he said. “We don’t know.”

Coman said he thinks his son, now a playful, funny and outgoing 7-year-old, would have progressed developmentally without any medical treatments.

His wife declined to be interviewed but has said in court documents that she believes the boy’s many alternative therapies benefited him. She argued that her son’s treatment must continue on a regular basis. “Abruptly halting medications (he) has been on for years will do great harm to the child,” she said in court documents.

But the boy has stopped some of his treatments, according to court records, and Coman says he has not regressed.

I can’t imagine being in such a situation, with my wife insisting on dubious DAN! protocols and me knowing that there is no science behind them and that some of them are likely to be potentially harmful. It’s not clear to me how Coman can sue Rossignol and Usman, though, unless he has custody of his son. As far as I can tell, the bitter divorce proceedings are continuing, and I wonder how that will impact the malpractice suit. Certainly, Coman can expect no help from his wife in pursuing it. Quite the opposite, it’s not unreasonable to expect that she will oppose it–fight it tooth and nail, even.

However Coman’s custody battle affects his attempt to sue DAN! practitioners, there’s one thing I’ve never been able to figure out, it’s why more victims of physicians using potentially dangerous treatments with no scientific basis to support them don’t sue for malpractice. I realize that I’m a physician and thus a member of the tribe. I detest frivolous malpractice suits as much as any physician. Like most physicians, I fear them as well. However, unlike some physicians, I accept that there are legitimate malpractice lawsuits. When a physician goes so far astray from the standard of care and behaves as alleged in this lawsuit, given that state medical boards seem powerless to shut down even the most egregious of quacks (like Dr. Rashid Buttar, who charged cancer patients tens of thousands of dollars for useless quack therapies and “pioneered” what he calls “transdermal” chelation therapy–or, as we like to call it, Buttar’s butter), all that leaves is a malpractice suit.

However, for a malpractice suit to succeed, usually there must be a demonstrable injury, the more dramatic, the more likely the suit is to succeed. Although I have no doubt that there really was injury to Coman’s son in the form of pain and suffering due to bein forced to undergo treatments that had no chance of helping him. However, such injury is not going to be obvious or easy to demonstrate to a jury. I certainly hope Cosman’s lawyers can do it, though, because I have little doubt that subjecting an autistic child to such interventions, forcing him to swallow supplements, administering a diuretic to him for no reason, and the other DAN!interventions described in the complaint. More compelling and likely to succeed, in my admittedly “not a lawyer” opinion, is the charge of lack of informed consent, one of which reads:

On or about April 19, 2004, and continuing thereafter through April 2, 2009, in purported treatment of A.J.’s undiagnosed medical condition, Defendant USMAN negligently failed to disclose to A.J.’s parent the inherent and substantial risks involved in the administration of chelation therapy treatments, including but not limited to, infection, renal failure, and blood diseases, and negligently failed to obtain the informed consent of A.J.’s parent for chelation therapy on the dates identified herein in light of the undisclosed risks.

Also alleged is misrepresentation, both intentional and negligent, in which the defendants are alleged to have misrepresented Cosman’s son’s condition, stating that he had all sorts of “toxic” conditions that he did not, in fact, have. No kidding!

Perhaps the loveliest aspects of this lawsuit will be the the discovery and testimony. Granted, it’s rather unlikely that this lawsuit will ever make it to trial. Most likely there will be some sort of settlement; Rossignol and Usman can’t help but fear being put on the stand, particularly given Usman’s role in the death of Tariq Abubakar Nadama. I’d really love to see it, too, even though I realize that it’s unlikely that the case will come to that. At the very least, discovery will be a bitch, though.

As an advocate for science-based medicine, I remain appalled at how easily physicians practicing modalities that are clearly so far outside the standard of care that they might as well be in another solar system–heck, sometimes, it seems, another universe!–can somehow continue to do so unmolested by state medical boards. In general, it takes truly horrific offenses to motivate a medical board to do anything. We’re talking substance abuse by a physician resulting in obvious impairment that causes medical misadventures causing injury or near-misses or blatantly illegal behavior, such as running a narcotic prescription mill. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now: Part of the problem is an attitude among doctors that seems to consider a medical license to be a right, rather than what it really is: an incredible privilege bestowed upon us physicians and surgeons by society that takes an equally incredible commitment and skill to be allowed to continue to keep. It was noted in both stories that Cosman had filed complaints against Usman, but thus far nothing appears to have happened. Unfortunately, that makes a lawsuit perhaps the last chance to send a message and obtain some measure of recompense for his son’s ordeal.

Comments

  1. #1 symball
    March 5, 2010

    Say what you like about the GMC in the UK, they might be slow, but this sort of behaviour would never be tolerated- hence the unfortunate drip of parents going to the US for these abusive treatments.

  2. #2 Kelner
    March 5, 2010

    I can’t see in the complaint that the child actually suffered anything medically adverse as a result of the treatment. Is that right?

  3. #3 David N. Brown
    March 5, 2010

    I noticed on the breaking news post on this that some commenters are taking the line that the suit has no merit because there is no evidence Coman’s son was injured. So, no amount of evidence is too small to allege a vaccine injury, but alleging harm by chelation requires a high standard of proof?

  4. #4 Dan
    March 5, 2010

    As someone named “Dan,” I’m a little peeved at the name that these quacks at D.A.N. chose for themselves. I think I want to change my name now.

  5. #5 Catherina
    March 5, 2010

    Do we have to wish divorce on autistic children so one parent will sue over DAN treatment?

  6. #6 Orac
    March 5, 2010

    I noticed on the breaking news post on this that some commenters are taking the line that the suit has no merit because there is no evidence Coman’s son was injured. So, no amount of evidence is too small to allege a vaccine injury, but alleging harm by chelation requires a high standard of proof?

    Yeah, pretty much.

    However, if there’s one thing about a malpractice case, there has to be an injury for it to be likely to be successful. If the injury is not obvious, then it will be difficult to convince a jury. If there is no injury, then the malpractice is a matter for the medical board. Unfortunately, the medical board has thus far done nothing, as far as I can tell.

  7. #7 The Domestic Goddess
    March 5, 2010

    Unfortunately, without being able to prove that the treatments actually HARMED him, there is little that will happen. Especially with his mother shooting off her mouth, still proclaiming that it could be harmful. No jury will be convinced if they don’t see the data. And not because it’s not proven scientifically, but because that’s the way the system works.

    I have a seven-year-old. I did not follow the D.A.N. protocol and guess what? My kid progressed! But he received vaccines! And still progressed!

    Sorry, but I have to be somewhat smarty-pants because it irks me that folks have insinuating I’m actually harming my child by getting vaccinations. Clearly, these people need to see the “wonders” of Polio and TB and Hepatitis to understand why.

  8. #8 Paul Browne
    March 5, 2010

    Interesting news Orac. I share your conclusion that it is unlikely that this will reach a full trial, still less a conviction, but the discovery and testimony processes should shine a harsh light on the nefarious practices of these DA(M)N quacks.

  9. #9 DLC
    March 5, 2010

    “DAN!” scammers deserve jail time and license forfeiture.
    If even 1/10 of the allegations made in the plaintiff’s filing are true these people are guilty of gross misfeasance and malpractice. Personally I hope they get hammered.

  10. #10 DavidCT
    March 5, 2010

    Unfortunately justice and the American legal system have about as much to do with one another as “a hot dog and a warm puppy”, to paraphrase from a cynical TV lawyer.

    In a society where scientific illiteracy is looked on as a virtue by many, one never knows what kind of chimera will be created by litigation. At least the quacks will have legal fees and negative publicity which is better than nothing.

  11. #11 Scott
    March 5, 2010

    IANAL, but my take:

    The best argument available for injury that I can see are the treatment costs incurred. It would be good to know to what extent they were covered by insurance – BCBS vs. DAN! would potentially be interesting. Beyond that there’s hypothetical injuries that might become apparent in the future (if such are actually grounds for a lawsuit, they shouldn’t be) and emotional distress. Which is awfully weak.

    On the face of it, I’d almost be tempted to say that a lawsuit against the medical boards, for not doing their duty and yanking the licenses, would be more appropriate. But I suspect that really has more to do with lack of resources than negligence, so not really their fault.

    Ultimately this appears to me to be more about harassment (however justified) than the actual merits of the case. So while I’d love to see DAN! get its comeuppance (IMO membership should automatically result in loss of license) I really can’t support this lawsuit.

  12. #12 Adam_Y
    March 5, 2010

    . Beyond that there’s hypothetical injuries that might become apparent in the future (if such are actually grounds for a lawsuit, they shouldn’t be) and emotional distress.

    Actually, they aren’t really all that hypothetical. There is evidence that the DAN treatments can cause injuries to the point where cetelation studies were canceled because of risk of injury.

  13. #13 Tsu Dho Nimh
    March 5, 2010

    Who owns “Doctor’s Data”? How much money are they making from these medically useless tests?

    The customary procedure for reporting oddball tests, way back when I was a med tech, was to write them up on a lab “miscellaneous results” slip, with the notation “no normal range for ____ has been established”. That was if we did them at all, which we often didn’t, because testing serum argon levels and examining feces for leprechaun eggs was a waste of our time.

  14. #14 Scott
    March 5, 2010

    Actually, they aren’t really all that hypothetical. There is evidence that the DAN treatments can cause injuries to the point where cetelation studies were canceled because of risk of injury.

    Can cause injuries makes them completely hypothetical at this time. It’s basically “he might one day evidence injury, so should be compensated for that injury today.” That’s just wrong. If such an injury becomes apparent in the future, sue then. If not, well, the quacks got lucky.

    You can’t (or at least shouldn’t be able to) sue for an injury that might happen.

  15. #15 daedalus2u
    March 5, 2010

    I think it will be settled and not go to trial. The only reason to go to trial is if you think you have a chance of winning or if you are too poor to settle. I don’t think the DAN! practitioners have a chance. The plaintiffs don’t need to show that there was actual harm, what they need to show is that the standard of care was not followed. The “real” standard of care, backed up by “real” studies.

    If an insurance company is involved it will be settled. If they are uninsured, or if their insurance company decides that wacky experimental crap is not covered by the malpractice insurance, it may not be settled.

    If it goes to trial, then they can be compelled to testify and the nonsense that comes out will be quite embarrassing. Injecting chelating agents with no indications for heavy metal poisoning, and no physical exam, and no test results for heavy metals isn’t going to look good. I think that other DAN! practitioners won’t testify on their behalf because they don’t want to be sued by their patients for doing the same things.

  16. #16 Pablo
    March 5, 2010

    Part of the problem is an attitude among doctors that seems to consider a medical license to be a right, rather than what it really is: an incredible privilege bestowed upon us physicians and surgeons by society

    I’d add another aspect: it’s also a responsibility

    Just because you have a license to practice doesn’t give you free reign to do whatever the hell you want.

  17. #17 Scott
    March 5, 2010

    The plaintiffs don’t need to show that there was actual harm, what they need to show is that the standard of care was not followed.

    I would be interested to know more of this. My understanding has always been that, in a civil case, the plaintiff must demonstrate their damages in order to prevail. Or would punitive damages come into play here? Wikipedia indicates that this would require “wanton and reckless conduct”.

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    March 5, 2010

    1.I recall from another discussion of Rossignol that he may have gotten “into the biz”(unfortunately) because he has two children with autism(see website:ICDRC)who are probably also unreported subjects of his experimentation. 2.A few people who combat HIV/AIDS denialism have speculated about how survivors of those who die because they did not seek SB treatment for HIV/AIDS might sue the perpetators of this unrealistic “theory” and those who recommend/ administer treatments derived from its faulty premises.3.As symball notes above,those “over-regulated”, “socialistic”,”non-libertarian”,”enemies of health freedom” across the pond actually have to drag their kids *here* to get quackish “treatments”.(Another reason why I like the Brits.)

  19. #19 Do'C
    March 5, 2010

    If an insurance company is involved it will be settled. If they are uninsured, or if their insurance company decides that wacky experimental crap is not covered by the malpractice insurance, it may not be settled.

    According to the Florida Dept. Of Health, Rossignol doesn’t carry medical malpractice insurance.

    I have elected not to carry medical malpractice insurance, however, I agree to satisfy any adverse judgements up to the minimum amounts pursuant to s. 458.320(5)(g) 1 or 459.0085(5)(g)1, F. S. I understand that I must either post notice in the form of a “sign” prominently displayed in the reception area or provide a written statement to any person to whom medical services are being provided that I have decided not to carry medical malpractice insurance. I understand that such a sign or notice must contain the wording specified in s. 458.320(5)(g) or 459.0085(5)(g), F. S.

    Source

  20. #20 Denice Walter
    March 5, 2010

    (semi-OT)Maybe there’s hope, after all: Mike Adams is bitching today that Greg Caton is being “persecuted”(after being “kidnapped”) by the FDA for selling that marvelous anti-cancer salve,Cansema(see NaturalNews).

  21. #21 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 5, 2010

    I’m just speculating here, but perhaps this lawsuit is a tactic for introducing evidence in favour of the father’s side of the child custody dispute. Even if it’s settled for a nominal sum, it would be on record that the mother has subjected the child to dangerous and ineffective “treatments” over the father’s objections. I imagine that would weigh heavily in such a dispute. Frankly, if I were in this position, I’d do what ever it takes, even a tactical malpractice suit, to protect my child.
    Of course, IANAL. Please feel free to tell me I’m full of it, if I am.

  22. #22 Omri
    March 5, 2010

    Perhaps if the science-based medicine cabal offered up enough of a legal offense fund for Mr. Corman, it will help him force this suit all the way to discovery. I’m in for $100. How do we contact this man?

  23. #23 FreeSpeaker
    March 5, 2010

    Do’C posts about Rossignol not carrying malpractice insurance and must post a notice in the office. I wonder how one does this in a telephone visit? Seems that a Rossignol asset check is in order.

  24. #24 Terrie
    March 5, 2010

    As far as custody goes, it’s traditional in most states that, unless there’s a good reason not to do so, parents share legal custory, even if they don’t share physical custody. Which means the dad has as much right to make calls on their son’s health care as the mom does. There was a case in Minnesota where the mom had physical custody, approved Christian Science care for their son’s diabetes, the boy died and the father successfully sued. Same principal, in terms of who has the right to cue on behalf of their son.

    As far as lac of phsyical injury, I suppose it depends on how gory the lawyers can make the treatments. Consider the Small Smiles dentistry case, where kids were restrained and given multiple, unneedwed crowns on their baby teeth in one session. They’ll lose those teeth eventually, so there was no permenant harm done, but the image of children strapped down for unneccesary procedures until they vomited from distress, well, that plays well in court. Cynical, but true.

  25. #25 Omri
    March 5, 2010

    I would be interested to know more of this. My understanding has always been that, in a civil case, the plaintiff must demonstrate their damages in order to prevail. Or would punitive damages come into play here? Wikipedia indicates that this would require “wanton and reckless conduct”.

    Diagnosing someone and prescribing treatment without actually meeting him would probably qualify as wanton and reckless conduct. (Though IANAL & IANAD).

  26. #26 freemage.geo#b98e9
    March 5, 2010

    I was thinking something along the same lines, T. Bruce. Specifically, my thought was that even if the malpractice suit gets settled out-of-court, establishing that subjecting your child to quack medicine could result in the loss of parental rights strikes me as a very powerful and direct blow to the Jenny McCarthy school of autism denial.

  27. #27 bluemaxx
    March 5, 2010

    well..if I am paraphrasing correctly… professional oath pledge is to not cause harm, or ALLOW harm thru inaction.

    Given that these medical charlatans had engaged in this DAN nonsense, involving no doubt time, money, and travel on the part of the family. Unless I am mistaken,…THERE IS HARM caused, because of diversion away from real therapies and treatments, and/or the diversion of family and or insurance funds to undergo “DAN therapy”.. no doubt impacting the families ability to also fund legitimate treatments.

    but hey, maybe what will happen is thru the pursuit of full disclosure and discovery, the court system will eventually demonstrate that complimentary and non traditional methods are really all fine, helpful, harmless, and effective. Or NOT. Because as we all know…the BIgPharma/Black Helicopter/World Government/SwineFluCabal/Cabala/Zionist conspiracy network also controls the courts and government.

  28. #28 Ian
    March 5, 2010

    Because as we all know…the BIgPharma/Black Helicopter/World Government/SwineFluCabal/Cabala/Zionist conspiracy network also controls the courts and government.

    You poor misguided sheep! Don’t you know that all of those are simply facets of the one TRUE conspiracy perpetrated by followers of Kthulu? Lovecraft tried to warn us… and now he’s DEAD! Pretty amazing coincidence, no? Or how about the fact that nobody in the mainstream “news” EVER talks about Kthulu? More “coincidences”?

    Watch the skis!

  29. #29 Malpractice
    March 5, 2010

    Hopefully this can set the stage for all pediatricians to be sued for malpractice when they administer too many vaccines to a child or when they vaccinate a child who is ill, etc.

    That would be wonderful. Keeping my fingers crossed….

  30. #30 MikeMa
    March 5, 2010

    Malpractice
    So you equate vaccination and chelation as equivalent threats? Wow. Care to match efficacy and safety studies?

  31. #31 Ian
    March 5, 2010

    Question for the docs and lawyers here.

    If you administer a treatment that is board sanctioned, according to board protocols, in perfect accordance with guidelines etc. etc., and there is a negative response, that’s not malpractice, correct? For example, if the prescribed treatment for condition X is procedure Y, and there’s an adverse response that the doc couldn’t (reasonably) expect, that wouldn’t qualify as malpractice so much as bad luck?

    In other words, #29 is full of it, right?

  32. #32 Jon H
    March 5, 2010

    Scott wrote: “You can’t (or at least shouldn’t be able to) sue for an injury that might happen.”

    On the other hand, there is a crime of “Risk Of Injury To A Minor”, which applies whether or not actual injury occurred. And at least in Connecticut can apply even if the only damage is to the child’s morals.

    Not sure how that effects a malpractice suit, but it’s clear that “no harm, no foul” doesn’t *always* apply in the justice system. I imagine actual demonstrated harm would be more useful when calculating damages to be awarded to a plaintiff.

  33. #33 Jennifer B. Phillips
    March 5, 2010

    Ian,
    IANAL or D, but I think the statutes are pretty clear on ‘standard of care’. If the charges center around the standard of care for a particular specialty not being upheld, and there is sufficient testimony from practitioners of that specialty to establish the standard of care, it seems pretty clear cut. I don’t think injury would be a requirement to prove malpractice in a case where treatments were not medically necessary/potentially harmful.

    So yeah, #29 is talking smack.

  34. #34 triskelethecat
    March 5, 2010

    IANAL, but I am a nurse. According to what I was taught in school and grad school, a medical professional cannot be sued for malpractice (the specific term) if he/she conformed to the usual standard of care and caused injury.

    That does not mean they can’t be sued for causing injury (and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose..), but that is not malpractice.

    So…Orac cannot be sued for a breast surgery if the surgery is found to be medically necessary (she has breast cancer) and he performs the surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy, whatever) that conforms to the standard of care prevalent AT THAT TIME. If his patient has a bad result (infection, loss of sensation, death), those are risks of surgery and properly pointed out and consent acknowledging such signed before surgery.

    The bad result is not malpractice. It may be bad luck, and the patient/family may sue, but they cannot claim malpractice as long as the physician met the standard of care for the community (in Orac’s case, specialists in breast cancer surgery are his community, not necessarily all surgeons in his physical home community).

  35. #35 Pablo
    March 5, 2010

    Orac cannot be sued for a breast surgery if the surgery is found to be medically necessary (she has breast cancer) and he performs the surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy, whatever) that conforms to the standard of care prevalent AT THAT TIME. If his patient has a bad result (infection,

    Doesn’t that depend on the cause of infection? If the infection is caused because Orac drops his iPhone into the patient during surgery when he is trying to connect to the Sirius/XM App, I would argue that is a pretty strong case for malpractice.

  36. #36 Science Mom
    March 5, 2010

    Hopefully this can set the stage for all pediatricians to be sued for malpractice when they administer too many vaccines to a child or when they vaccinate a child who is ill, etc.

    That would be wonderful. Keeping my fingers crossed….

    There are compensation schemes in place in many countries that will award those, even with the presumption of causality, monetary settlements should a vaccine injury occur. Could you please tell me what programme DAN!s or their parent organisation, Autism Research Institute, have in place to compensate those injured by their quack treatments?

  37. #37 daedalus2u
    March 5, 2010

    But what is the “standard of care” in autism quackery?

    When your risk/benefit mantra is “better dead than autistic” how is malpractice even possible?

    Of course it is only going to be a jury of curebies that will hold that standard, and they are very much a minority in the community.

  38. #38 Joseph
    March 5, 2010

    Defendant ROSSIGNOL continued his telephone consultations with A.J.’s mother and diagnosed, without ever seeing or examining A.J., and although he diagnosed a myriad of conditions, including Minamata disease and encephalopathy (2/7/2007), toxic effects of mercury and its compounds and inflammation of the brain (6/1/2007), toxic effects of mercury and its compounds, encephalopathy, autoimmune disease, and nutritional deficiency (6/19/2007), toxic effects of mercury and its compounds, encephalopathy, and autoimmune disease (10/2/2007), ROSSIGNOL did not diagnose autism.

    I knew Rossignol was quack, but I didn’t know he was a Geier-grade or Bradstreet-grade quack.

  39. #39 Pablo
    March 5, 2010

    But what is the “standard of care” in autism quackery?

    I agree that is a difficult question, but I would assume “the doctor actually sees the patient” is part of the answer somewhere.

  40. #40 Ian
    March 5, 2010

    When your risk/benefit mantra is “better dead than autistic” how is malpractice even possible?

    I think you might have answered your own question there, daedalus2u. If an autistic child survives the DAN! process, it’s malpractice. Gives a whole new gruesome interpretation to the idea of “no child left behind”.

  41. #41 wfjag
    March 5, 2010

    How serious a case is it can somewhat be gleened by looking at who plaintiffs’ attorneys are. Plaintiff’s outside fast gun is David Wilzig. Wilzig, among other cases he’s handled, is the attorney for plaintiff in “Stephen J. BARRETT, Plaintiff, v. Carlos F. NEGRETE, Hulda CLARK, dba New Century Press, Defendants,” Civil No. 02-CV-2210-L (CAB)., U.S. District Court, Southern District of California.

    Orac — I assume that you’ve heard of some of these people. I suspect that if you call Dr. Barrett, he’ll tell you whether he believes that Wilzig is any good. Wilzig certainly doesn’t need to take cases promising long hours at no recovery to fill his schedule.

  42. #42 Matthew Cline
    March 5, 2010

    Hopefully this can set the stage for all pediatricians to be sued for malpractice when they administer too many vaccines to a child.

    How, exactly, would a malpractice suit over administering chelation “set the stage” for malpractice suits over vaccination?

  43. #43 Midwest Dad
    March 5, 2010

    Unfortunately, I can totally relate to James Coman. My wife strongly believes in the vaccine-autism connection (I do not) and largely wants to treat our ASD son with biomedical interventions. Just this week, he’s been suspended from school for aggressive behavior, yet her response is to pursue a homeopathic remedy because traditional medications “will kill him” and we’ll use them “over her dead body.”

    She has called me an unfit father, baby killer, and a slave owner — among other things — because I don’t agree with her antivaccine views.

    I’m not in a hurry to medicate my son — I don’t suppose any parent is — but under the circumstances, I think it is irresponsible not to at least consider it. But my wife is so unable to step out of her own beliefs about autism and its causes/treatments that she is probably hurting my son. I try to do what I can. We do pursue some traditional behavioral therapies. And I try to protect him from the craziest alternative treatments. But it is hard. My children love their mother. They do not want the family to split apart.

    The vaccine-autism theory has caused so much damage in so many ways. I wonder how many other husbands and wives have come to loggerheads because of it. It is not a stretch to say that it’s pretty much destroyed my marriage.

  44. #44 Anonymouse
    March 5, 2010

    Midwest Dad, I’m sorry. I hear so many stories of families with autistic children breaking apart under the strain. It does’t help when you have hucksters taking advantage of frightened parents.

  45. #45 Denice Walter
    March 5, 2010

    @ Midwest Dad: you should try to speak to a counselor (not necessarily a marriage counselor *yet*) for *yourself* first: she/he might be able to give you some strategies for speaking to your wife,negotiating, planning for your son, etc. At least, there is some behavioral therapy happening now and you’ve prevented some of the most suspect “treatments” effectively.Good luck to you.(FYI:me- grad degrees psych;have done counseling)

  46. #46 Matt P
    March 5, 2010

    Because no other lawyer seems to have offered up some explanations here, I’ll take the liberty of doing so.

    Orac:

    It’s not clear to me how Coman can sue Rossignol and Usman, though, unless he has custody of his son.

    Unless one parent’s rights have been terminated or a parent is specifically stripped of certain rights by a court, either parent can sue on behalf of a child. Indeed, in most states any person can sue on behalf of a child. Note the caption in the complaint here that the parent is “next friend” of the child. A “next friend” usually can be any person over 18 who is suing on behalf of a child. The child is the “real party in interest.”

    Orac:

    However, for a malpractice suit to succeed, usually there must be a demonstrable injury, the more dramatic, the more likely the suit is to succeed. Although I have no doubt that there really was injury to Coman’s son in the form of pain and suffering due to bein forced to undergo treatments that had no chance of helping him. However, such injury is not going to be obvious or easy to demonstrate to a jury.

    Precisely. In order to succeed on the negligence and misrepresentation claims, the plaintiff will have to prove that he suffered harm as a result of the negligence.

    But the lawyer here was smart to include the claims for “lack of informed consent,” which I didn’t know was a separate cause of action, and for battery, which most people think of as “assault.” If the doctors treated the child based on a lack of informed consent, or based on misrepresentations, then any consent to the treatment may be invalid/void, and the poking, prodding, poisoning, etc., would be battery. “Battery” is intentionally causing harmful or offensive physical contact to another person. Consent is defense to most battery, but in the medical context, the consent has to be based on full information to the patient.

    @Scott (#11):

    On the face of it, I’d almost be tempted to say that a lawsuit against the medical boards, for not doing their duty and yanking the licenses, would be more appropriate. But I suspect that really has more to do with lack of resources than negligence, so not really their fault.

    Sorry, but the board would be protected by governmental immunity. Plus, licensing boards have very wide discretion over what they do and do not “prosecute.” And yes, most states’ licensing boards are woefully underfunded to perform the tasks that they are assigned by law.

    @Scott, #14:

    Can cause injuries makes them completely hypothetical at this time. It’s basically “he might one day evidence injury, so should be compensated for that injury today.” That’s just wrong. If such an injury becomes apparent in the future, sue then. If not, well, the quacks got lucky.

    Right. A victim of negligence can’t sue until he/she actually suffers some harm. Sometimes, that harm is hidden or can’t be discovered, but I don’t think that happens in medical malpractice cases. And it’s the same in criminal law. If I shoot a gun at you and miss, you can sue me for at most “assault,” which is putting you in fear of imminent harm. If I hit you, you’ve got me for “battery” and possibly wrongful death, and your damages are much higher. The only difference is my aim or my luck. In short, the law depends quite a bit upon actual results, and not just the bad acts of a person.

    @daedalus2u, #15:

    The plaintiffs don’t need to show that there was actual harm, what they need to show is that the standard of care was not followed. The “real” standard of care, backed up by “real” studies.

    Incorrect. As I said above, for the claim that the standard of care was not followed, the plaintiffs do need to show actual harm. On the other hand, for the claims of battery, no actual injury need be shown. The “harm” in battery is the offensive or harmful contact itself.

    @Scottl, #17:

    My understanding has always been that, in a civil case, the plaintiff must demonstrate their damages in order to prevail. Or would punitive damages come into play here? Wikipedia indicates that this would require “wanton and reckless conduct”.

    Right. Punitive damages are never available unless there are other damages. But, if the other damages are very small, the punitive damages may be large in comparison. But recent federal cases are reining in punitive damages awards.

    @T. Bruce McNeely, #21:

    I’m just speculating here, but perhaps this lawsuit is a tactic for introducing evidence in favour of the father’s side of the child custody dispute. Even if it’s settled for a nominal sum, it would be on record that the mother has subjected the child to dangerous and ineffective “treatments” over the father’s objections.

    Perhaps, but not likely. Unless the mother is a party to this case, any findings made by the court in this case can’t be used against the mother. She would have the ability to litigate the claims anew in the custody case.

    @Terrie, #24: The goriness of the treatments will go to damages for the battery, not to damages for any negligence.

    Ian, #31:

    If you administer a treatment that is board sanctioned, according to board protocols, in perfect accordance with guidelines etc. etc., and there is a negative response, that’s not malpractice, correct? For example, if the prescribed treatment for condition X is procedure Y, and there’s an adverse response that the doc couldn’t (reasonably) expect, that wouldn’t qualify as malpractice so much as bad luck?

    Yes and no. To prove negligence, the plaintiff has to prove that the doctor acted in a way that is unreasonable when compared to doctors of similar expertise. If most doctors would prescribe a treatment in a certain situation, then any doctor who does the same thing is unlikely to be found negligent. Legal “guidelines” and “approvals” help the defendant doctor, but aren’t as strong as the prevailing medical practice in the area and specialty.

    In other words, #29 is full of it, right?

    Right.

    I hope this helps. If I’ve missed any questions that are hanging out there, please point them out, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

  47. #47 sheldon101
    March 5, 2010

    There is the chilling effect and the warming effect
    ——————
    Other doctors may decide that they have to be a bit more careful.

    Lawyers may also see a new avenue to make money which is a good reason for doctors to me more careful.

  48. #48 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 5, 2010

    I noticed on the breaking news post on this that some commenters are taking the line that the suit has no merit because there is no evidence Coman’s son was injured. So, no amount of evidence is too small to allege a vaccine injury, but alleging harm by chelation requires a high standard of proof?

    Perhaps if Coman’s son started talking with an Australian accent…

  49. #49 Natasha
    March 5, 2010

    This is really sad news. Unfortunately, not all docs are “good” docs – no matter DAN! or non-DAN!.

    I am a parent who takes her child to a DAN! doctor. This is the only Doc we’ve taken our son to who actually wants to help our son get better / healthier overall, rather than just give a temporary fix to his symptoms with more drugs.

    We have been going from specialist to specialist for almost 4 years. No one rang alarm bells when our son was throwing up constantly, developped asthma, had weeping eczema, and was either constipated or had diarrhea, and pretty much stopped growing. NO ONE. Just take this medicine for this, put this cream on, order this $50/can prescription formula, inhale these steroids, go get more tests. But NO ONE was interested in helping my son regain his health.

    Guess what? Since seeing this doc, he has started packing on pounds and grown two inches in the last four months.

    He does not tell us what to do. We are a team, and under no circumstance would we go along with anything we thought was dangerous.

    I guess what I’m saying is that yes, there are “quacks” out there. But they are in every field of medicine. Not just DAN! doctors. A lot of what they do is very practical and common sense (in my opinion).

    I thank God every day for the DAN! doctor we found. Our little guy is getting healthier. And maybe with better health he will start to recover so much of what he lost 2 1/2 years ago.

  50. #50 Natasha
    March 5, 2010

    This is really sad news. Unfortunately, not all docs are “good” docs – no matter DAN! or non-DAN!.

    I am a parent who takes her child to a DAN! doctor. This is the only Doc we’ve taken our son to who actually wants to help our son get better / healthier overall, rather than just give a temporary fix to his symptoms with more drugs.

    We have been going from specialist to specialist for almost 4 years. No one rang alarm bells when our son was throwing up constantly, developped asthma, had weeping eczema, and was either constipated or had diarrhea, and pretty much stopped growing. NO ONE. Just take this medicine for this, put this cream on, order this $50/can prescription formula, inhale these steroids, go get more tests. But NO ONE was interested in helping my son regain his health. He was so obvioulsy sick. Can I sue these doctors?

    Guess what? Since seeing the DAN! doc, our little guy has started packing on pounds and grown two inches in the last four months.

    The doctor does not tell us what to do. We are a team, and under no circumstance would we go along with anything we thought was dangerous.

    I guess what I’m saying is that yes, there are “quacks” out there. But they are in every field of medicine. Not just DAN! doctors. A lot of what DAN! doctors do is very practical and common sense (in my opinion).

    I thank God every day for the DAN! doctor we found. Our little guy is getting healthier. And maybe with better health he will start to recover so much of what he lost 2 1/2 years ago.

  51. “This is really sad news. Unfortunately, not all docs are “good” docs – no matter DAN! or non-DAN!.”

    Yeah, this is true – except that DAN! Endorses quackery and non-scientific practice and promotes dangerous therapes that are unnecessary and dangerous, as well as encourages fraudulant labs, among other things.

    “I am a parent who takes her child to a DAN! doctor. This is the only Doc we’ve taken our son to who actually wants to help our son get better / healthier overall, rather than just give a temporary fix to his symptoms with more drugs.”

    Let me guess, vitamins and a gluten free diet, right? I think you’re mistaken on a key point – autism isn’t a developmental stasis where unless you give him/her megadoses of vitamins and an expensive waste-of-money diet your child isn’t going to develop. And temporary symptom relief? Depression, and in some cases violent and self-injurious behavior are not symptoms – they’re real issues in autistic childen.

    “We have been going from specialist to specialist for almost 4 years. No one rang alarm bells when our son was throwing up constantly, developped asthma, had weeping eczema, and was either constipated or had diarrhea, and pretty much stopped growing. NO ONE. Just take this medicine for this, put this cream on, order this $50/can prescription formula, inhale these steroids, go get more tests. But NO ONE was interested in helping my son regain his health. He was so obvioulsy sick. Can I sue these doctors? ”

    So Steroids and beta agonists to treat Asthma, which is a chronic disease unrelated to neurologic development or delay; antidiarrheals for a GI condition that you have yet to specify, and treatment for a dermatologic condtion is quackery? Who knew that.

    “Guess what? Since seeing the DAN! doc, our little guy has started packing on pounds and grown two inches in the last four months.”

    No way. I bet normal growth and development had nothing to do with that! Confirmation Bias is totally not involved here!

    “The doctor does not tell us what to do. We are a team, and under no circumstance would we go along with anything we thought was dangerous.”

    Any pediatrician who is worth anthing would tell you the risk vs benefits of any procedure or treatment, and help you to make an informed decision. It’s called Family-Centered Care, and it’s a policy in the system I work in. However, don’t expect for a doctor to do anything but referr you to someone else when you come in barking orders about stuff you saw in the internet with nothing to support it, which seems to be what DAN encourages.

    “I guess what I’m saying is that yes, there are “quacks” out there. But they are in every field of medicine. Not just DAN! doctors. A lot of what DAN! doctors do is very practical and common sense (in my opinion).”

    Practical and Common sense would be to use therapies and treatments which are scientifically proven. DAN! PRotcols aren’t – and they’ve done more harm to legitimate neurodeveloplemtal research and treatment docs than anything they’ve done to help children – expecially by encouraging an unrealistic hope that “x” therapy can magically make your child not be Autistic, which parents also seem to think is worse than death.

    “I thank God every day for the DAN! doctor we found. Our little guy is getting healthier. And maybe with better health he will start to recover so much of what he lost 2 1/2 years ago.”

    Ever think why most, if not all, DAN! Doctors are not affiliated with hospitals or healthcare systems, or even universities, but rather with independantly run clinics? They’d be run out of their practice and reported to the state if they engaged in their chelation nonsense thans to competent allied health workers, specialist physicians, and nurses. I thank God for people who are working towards legitimate science and a treatment for autism, and not for people who think it’s a death sentence.

    As someone who has autistic family members, and someone who grew up as a neurodiverse individual, I’ve always held a special lothing for people who think it’s wrong, or a curse.

  52. #52 Jerome
    March 5, 2010

    Orac, with all of the success they’ve been having in the UK recently at fighting quackery left and right (and the Singh BCA tentatively positive with the recent judge’s statements), it seems there are far more impediments for complainants to be taken seriously by licensors and regulators in the US. Is this true, and do you have an insight into why?

    I suppose if it is, a good chunk might be down to an order of magnitude larger population and 50 different states handling the regulation, but it would be nice to bring the successes in the UK across the pond.

    I read in comments elsewhere that someone has reported the “vision homeopath” Charlene Werner, and met with little success on that front. It just seems there should be something more that could be done proactively.

    Regardless, thank you very much for your and Steve Novella’s tireless efforts.

  53. #53 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 5, 2010

    Orac, you wrote:

    “I remain appalled at how easily physicians practicing modalities that are clearly so far outside the standard of care that they might as well be in another solar system–heck, sometimes, it seems, another universe!”

    Another universe, indeed! For some of those alternatives-to-medicine to work and work in the manner described would require physical laws not found in our universe.

    Get your woo here! Straight from the multi-verse!

    Oh no, I think I’ve given them a new marketing angle if they tire of tossing “quantum” about.

  54. #54 SkydiverIm
    March 6, 2010

    Antaeus
    I am an English-as-a-second-language person living in Australia, and therefore now speak with an Australian accent. Can I sue someone over this, or maybe get my own reality show?
    Actually, as a long time reader (and lurker) of this blog, I finally cracked under the preassure of not figuring out what IANAL or D is. Can anyone help?

  55. #55 Zetetic
    March 6, 2010

    @ SkydiverIm:
    IANAL= I Am Not A Lawyer

    IANAD= I Am Not A Doctor

    Hope that helps!

  56. #56 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 6, 2010

    IANAL – I am not a lawyer
    IANAD – I am not a doctor
    IANAD,BIPOOTV – I am not a doctor, but I play one on TV (not common on the internet, mostly old TV commercials, at least here in the States)

    I’ve had to Google a lot of these myself.

    G’day.

  57. #57 SkydiverIm
    March 6, 2010

    Thanks guys!
    Still have a problem with that accent, though. I moved here, had a flu shot, and my tongue just started to say things like ‘arvo’ and ‘vegimite’. There MUST be a causation there somewhere, I can just FEEL it!
    End sarcasm, back to discussion.

  58. #58 Zetetic
    March 6, 2010

    Frankly I feel kind of ripped off that I didn’t get an Aussie accent from my flu vaccinations!

    I wonder if I can get one in my next vaccine dose if I pay a little extra?
    ;-)

  59. #59 SkydiverIm
    March 6, 2010

    Like me, most people just want to be able to throw a shrimp on the barbie, but unfortunately I have discovered you have to be raised on the Aussie cool aid if you are to do it with flair.
    Now I’m going to shut up and let serious discussion commence…

  60. #60 bush piglet
    March 6, 2010

    Skydiver, You can only claim damage from your flu shot if you actually eat the vegemite!

  61. #61 SkydiverIm
    March 6, 2010

    Serious discussion, be damned!

    Actually EAT the vegimite? Have you drunk ze cool aid? I believe it is only used here to scare away potential recidency applicants. And as such is a very effective deterrent. They sell it in airports, you know… Besides, have applied foe residency, but the stuff smells like a bacterial incubator…

  62. #62 Matthew Cline
    March 6, 2010

    @Natasha:

    No one rang alarm bells when our son was throwing up constantly, developped asthma, had weeping eczema, and was either constipated or had diarrhea, and pretty much stopped growing.

    Since none of those things are autism, why did you have them treated by a DAN! doctor?

  63. #63 Otto
    March 6, 2010

    @Domestic Goddess: “No jury will be convinced if they don’t see the data.”

    In Cook County? One thing a jury trial certainly would not come down to is “the data.”

  64. #64 Broken Link
    March 6, 2010

    Those of you wondering about harm to the child, take a look at the medline page for Spironolactone, one of the myriad things prescribed by Rossignol.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682627.html

    Here are some highlights.

    Spironolactone is used to treat certain patients with hyperaldosteronism (the body produces too much aldosterone, a naturally occurring hormone); low potassium levels; and in patients with edema (fluid retention) caused by various conditions, including heart, liver, or kidney disease. Spironolactone is also used alone or with other medications to treat high blood pressure. Spironolactone is in a class of medications called aldosterone receptor antagonists. It causes the kidneys to eliminate unneeded water and sodium from the body into the urine, but reduces the loss of potassium from the body.

    Spironolactone has caused tumors in laboratory animals. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication for your condition.

    Spironolactone also is used in combination with other medicines to treat precocious puberty (a condition causing children to enter puberty too soon, resulting in the development of sexual characteristics in girls usually younger than 8 years of age and in boys usually younger than 9 years of age) or myasthenia gravis (MG, a disease in which the nerves do not function properly and patients may experience weakness; numbness; loss of muscle coordination; and problems with vision, speech, and bladder control). Spironolactone also may be used to treat certain female patients with abnormal facial hair. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.

    It’s horrifying that someone could be insane enough to prescribe this to a two year old without even seeing them.

  65. #65 Last I checked
    March 6, 2010

    Last I checked, none of you are the parent of this child and thus have no idea what this family is going through. The author is “siding” with one side of a nasty divorce case. If you want to be a legitimate writer, you should report both sides of the situtation.
    Parents of children with autism (if you were actually somewhat sensitive to us and our children, you would know we prefer “children with autism” not “autistic children”) are not suing DAN doctors because we are actually witnessing improvements with our kids with the therapies suggested by the doctors. You have clearly not lived in my home with my child or walked in the footsteps I have…or seen my child’s medical records from BOTH conventional doctors and complementary doctors. Both are strikingly similar.
    I wish writers like you would please mind your own business. I have enough to contend with. Live in your little bubble behind the screen of your computer. I seriously think you should be addressing topics like “Needing to seek professional help – I have nothing better to do with my life than to get in the middle of someone else’s divorce settlement as well as tear down the parents of special needs children.”

  66. #66 Militant Agnostic
    March 6, 2010

    Last I checked – if you actually “checked” this site you would know that many of the commenters here are parents of special needs children, cut then you don’t want evidence and logic to penetrate your little bubble.

  67. #67 laura
    March 6, 2010

    @65:

    well i’m not a parent, but i actually have autism myself and i much prefer “autistic adult” to condescending person-first language.

  68. #68 theshortearedowl
    March 6, 2010

    While it is encouraging to see a case like this make it to court, I worry that in this case, they won’t find anything to stick. The kid sounds like he survived the treatments with no ill effects. If this lawsuit fails, I bet anything the quacks will claim it as a validation of chelation woo.

  69. #69 Pablo
    March 6, 2010

    Parents of children with autism …are not suing DAN doctors because we are actually witnessing improvements with our kids with the therapies suggested by the doctors.

    Have the parents of the child who died from chelation therapy sued their doctor? Because their child most certainly did not improve.

    That would be a very easy win, with a huge settlement, and deservedly so. So have they done it yet? Or are they making excuses for their quack’s incompetence?

    If people whose child is killed by the woo aren’t even pursuing it, then what hope is there for anyone else?

  70. #70 Chris
    March 6, 2010

    Last I checked, none of you are the parent of this child and thus have no idea what this family is going through.

    You have obviously not checked here, or are one of the many morphing trolls with reading comprehension problems, because many of those who post here have children. Many have children with autism (Kristen, Domestic Goddess, and did you miss Midwest Dad’s story?). Some of us even have children who have been disabled by the actual vaccine preventable diseases.

    Please go back under your bridge.

    Pablo (who is a parent):

    Have the parents of the child who died from chelation therapy sued their doctor? Because their child most certainly did not improve.

    Dr. Usman, who is one of the doctor’s being sued, was apparently the one who ordered the chelation for Tarig Nadama. It was, of course, Dr. Roy Kerry who never kept anything but the regular EDTA and ordered an IV push who killed the kid. He also became an official DAN! doctor after killing the boy. Usman’s orders discussed here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/11/the_complaint_against_dr_roy_kerry_kille.php

  71. #71 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 6, 2010

    Last I checked, none of you are the parent of this child and thus have no idea what this family is going through. The author is “siding” with one side of a nasty divorce case. If you want to be a legitimate writer, you should report both sides of the situtation.

    No, what’s really happening is that the author is siding with real science as opposed to expensive and dangerous pseudoscience. He’d be doing the same thing if both parents were siding with the real science, or if both them were siding with the pseudoscience. If you wanted to be a legitimate writer, you wouldn’t have ignored what Orac spent the whole post writing about, the pseudoscience that was inflicted on this child, and accused him of “siding with one side of a nasty divorce case” when he actually barely talked about the divorce at all.

  72. #72 The Panic Man
    March 6, 2010

    Yet another “FAIR AN BALANCED” idiot screaming that nobody’s giving credibility to their insanity.

    Last I checked, facts don’t come in two versions.

  73. #73 Bill
    March 6, 2010

    Let’s be clear.

    There’s no medically justifiable reason to treat a child with chelation therapy simply because they’ve been diagnosed with autism.

    Or subject them to colonoscopy, or lumbar punctures.

    Sooner rather than later a child will be permanently injured or killed from one of the above relatively risky procedures.

  74. #74 Timothy
    March 7, 2010

    The good news is that EDTA is a kind of shitty chelator at biological pH. The Kf at that pH just isn’t that high. The bad news is that there are a metric shit tonne of important biological metal ions in the blood. Calcium, potassium, sodium, traces of manganese and copper, iron of course. And a lot of y’all are doctors or biologists, you know futzing with those equilibria can bring about all kinds of nasty results. This is basic undergraduate analytical chemistry, so I’m just shocked and appalled that a purported doctor of any sort could think to himself, “Gee, let me just give this chelator to a kid who shows absolutely no signs of elevated large metal ions in his blood. Nothing could happen there!”

  75. #75 Chris
    March 7, 2010

    Timothy, that is exactly what killed Tariq Nadama. See the link I provided above about Roy Kerry. Kerry also strapped the kid down and used an IV push.

  76. #76 storkdok
    March 7, 2010

    @Last I checked

    I’m the parent of an AUTISTIC CHILD. If you checked out of the echo chamber more often at AoA, you would find many parents of AUTISTIC CHILDREN who use their brains for critical thinking instead of the zombiefied action over at AoA.

    The father in the post has a legal right to not have his AUTISTIC CHILD subjected to the DAN quackery. There is no other side.

    Just because you drank the DAN! coolade doesn’t mean all parents of AUTISTIC CHILDREN drink it. I like my daily dose of skeptical thinking ala Orac and Scienceblogs, etc., with a dash of snark, please!

    Now, please Check Out and go look for your brain…oh, sorry, the AoA zombies must have it.

  77. #77 storkdok
    March 7, 2010

    @Matt P

    I have to say that you have done an excellent job answering the questions on the legal side of things! Thanks for sharing your expertise!

    As always, a pleasure!

    See you at the board meeting tomorrow.

  78. #78 Calli Arcale
    March 7, 2010

    Natasha @ 50:

    We have been going from specialist to specialist for almost 4 years. No one rang alarm bells when our son was throwing up constantly, developped asthma, had weeping eczema, and was either constipated or had diarrhea, and pretty much stopped growing. NO ONE. Just take this medicine for this, put this cream on, order this $50/can prescription formula, inhale these steroids, go get more tests. But NO ONE was interested in helping my son regain his health. He was so obvioulsy sick. Can I sue these doctors?

    No one rang alarm bells . . . just take this medicine. So in the space of one paragraph, you claim that the regular doctors (I’m assuming you sought a second opinion at some point, if you were so upset with the first doctor) ignored your son’s distress, and then go on to explain that they prescribed reasonable medications to treat these conditions?

    Most treatments for eczema are creams; I don’t see any reason to see that as brushing off your concerns. In fact, eczema can cause such serious damage to the skin that you often can’t just remove any insult and then wait for the body to get better on its own; you have to help it along, and that’s what the creams do.

    Inhaling steroids is *standard* treatment for moderate asthma. If you care about your child, you should want asthma treated, since letting the inflammation go untreated could cause damage to his lungs, and actually render later asthma attacks more severe. Prompt treatment is the best way to avoid having to take controller medications all the time. It’s not something to mess around with; asthma can *kill*. And when it’s not deadly, it’s really not any fun.

    Diarrhea and failure to thrive often go hand in hand; constant diarrhea will make the child less able to absorb nutrients and so the child will not grow. This may or may not be a problem, and there are about a zillion things that can cause it. Some are serious, some are benign, some go away with time. Tests are really the only way to tell which is which.

    Really, it does not sound as if the regular doctors brushed you off. Anyone who prescribes steroid inhalers for a small child is taking the situation seriously, because that’s serious medication. It has nothing to do with autism, of course, but it’s arguably more serious.

    I submit that you do not appear to be taking your son’s asthma seriously, if you think steroid inhalers are silly or if you think it has something to do with autism. They are the best way to help an asthmatic regain normal lung function. (Bronchodialators work, but they’re hard on the body, and they do not treat the inflammation. They are purely for symptomatic relief.)

  79. #79 Calli Arcale
    March 7, 2010

    BTW, I’m not speaking as a pediatrician, but as a parent. I’m a software engineer. I’m also an asthmatic, so that topic is near and dear to my heart.

    It occurs to me that one thing that you can see in Natasha’s post is a perception that if a child has many symptoms, they must all have a common cause. She is upset not because the doctors weren’t treating her son, but because they were failing to find some common cause — the ONE THING that was causing all his problems.

    But it’s actually not impossible, or even that unusual, to have more than one chronic disease. I have asthma, GERD, ADHD, allergies, chronic depression (though I’ve done well lately; not one clinical episode in 10 years!), and recurrent cystitis due to a diverticulum. The asthma and allergies are probably somewhat related; they’re both autoimmune disorders. But their triggers are clearly different. My ADHD and chronic depression may be related, though that isn’t clear at all. The asthma and GERD may be related, though I’m skeptical; the GERD doesn’t wax and wane like the asthma does.

    So, long story short, just because somebody has lots of conditions doesn’t mean they’re related. Bad luck happens too.

  80. #80 Prometheus
    March 8, 2010

    Calli,

    Good pick-up on the old “The doctors ignored me and did nothing!” gambit.

    Too many times, I’ve heard (and read) parents on the “biomed train to Hell” say that they were “forced” into “alternative medicine” because callous, uncaring “mainstream” doctors “ignored them” and “did nothing”.

    When I’ve asked further, I’ve seen two astounding facts emerge:

    [1] “Ignored me” generally means “listened to my ‘theories’ about diet, vaccines and/or heavy metals being the cause of my child’s autism and did not validate them”.

    [2] “Did nothing” generally means “did diagnostic tests and prescribed treatments that followed the medical consensus and did not validate my beliefs that restrictive diets, chelation, IVIG, hyperbaric oxygen, diabetic medications and/or stem cell therapy would cure my child’s autism”.

    Let’s parse out Natasha’s complaint:

    We have been going from specialist to specialist for almost 4 years. No one rang alarm bells when our son was throwing up constantly, developped asthma, had weeping eczema, and was either constipated or had diarrhea, and pretty much stopped growing. NO ONE. Just take this medicine for this, put this cream on, order this $50/can prescription formula, inhale these steroids, go get more tests. But NO ONE was interested in helping my son regain his health. He was so obvioulsy sick. Can I sue these doctors?

    It sounds as though the “specialists” were trying to help her son “regain his health” – they were getting tests, prescribing medication, etc. Why would they be doing that if they didn’t want him to get better? From what little she describes of their activity, the doctors seem to be try to get her son healthy.

    For that matter, what is her “DAN! doctor” doing that is substantially different? Is he/she not doing tests and prescribing medication? How is that different from what the other doctors were doing? If her concern is the cost, well, that is a concern for a lot of people in the US, but most “alternative” therapies are not only more expensive, they aren’t covered by insurance (and for good reason: they haven’t been shown to work).

    The question this raises with me is what Natasha thinks they should have been doing. What are the “alarm bells” that they should have been ringing?

    My suspicion is that Natasha had a belief about her son’s autism that these doctors were not validating – “heavy metal toxicity”, “vaccine toxin”, etc. – and that is what she’s peeved about.

    As the parent of a disabled child, I’ve discovered that sometimes you have to decide whether you want the doctors to make you feel validated or make your child better. Those are often incompatible goals. Doctors who place validation of parents’ beliefs above doing what’s best for their patient (i.e. the child) may be “listening to the parents” (or, as I’ve heard it expressed, “learning from the parents”), but they are providing their patient poor medical care.

    Prometheus

  81. #81 Calli Arcale
    March 8, 2010

    I have occasionally encountered medical professionals and teachers who have seemed to want to validate my beliefs rather than to find out what’s really wrong. It gives me a strange, creepy feeling. Sometimes, it turns out that they’re just gun-shy from having been yelled at by too many parents for “not taking them seriously”, but there were a couple who seemed to want to let me diagnose my child and then dispense whatever. I did not like that.

  82. #82 Mike Stanton
    March 8, 2010

    @Bill who wrote

    Sooner rather than later a child will be permanently injured or killed from one of the above relatively risky procedures.

    It already has. Here is the case of Jack Piper.

    An autistic boy has won a £500,000 payout after a hospital at the centre of an MMR scandal carried out an operation that was “not clinically justified”. Jack Piper, then five, was left battling for life after the procedure, which his parents claim was carried out to establish links between his condition and bowel problems. His bowel was perforated in more than 12 places during surgery at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London.

  83. #83 Todd W.
    March 8, 2010

    @Mike Stanton

    Your link is broken.

  84. #84 Prometheus
    March 8, 2010

    Callie,

    Our paediatrician was similarly “jumpy” about us when we mentioned trying some “biomedical” therapies – it took a few minutes of careful verbal maneuvering before he realised that we were “ex-biomed” parents (the result of experience).

    It is a narrow path to tread between offending people by rejecting obvious nonsense and inadvertently encouraging people to try obvious nonsense by not adquately discouraging them. Some practitioners never quite get there.

    Personally, I prefer that my doctor tell me my half-baked ideas are half-baked and also tell me why they are half-baked, but I’ll take rude over obsequious any day. With rude doctors, my feelings may get hurt but I know that they are giving me their best advice. With the overly obsequious ones, I’m never quite sure who is “running the show” – are they telling me what they think is the best course of action or are they deferring me in order to spare my “feelings”?

    The latter is the sort of thing that causes celebrities to end up dead from a “medical misadventure” (see: Michael Jackson). I’d rather my doctor be the one giving me medical advice, not me.

    Prometheus

  85. #85 Pandaling
    March 8, 2010

    What’s wrong with DAN doctors??? My son improved so much after the treatment!!! If not because of the DAN doctor, he’ll be still non-verbal and throw terrible tantrums… He is a healthy little boy, improving everyday!

  86. #86 snerd
    March 8, 2010

    If not because of the DAN doctor, he’ll be still non-verbal and throw terrible tantrums…

    How can you possibly know that?

  87. #87 Chris
    March 9, 2010

    Because some have been known to harm kids with unproven therapies like chelation and megavitamin therapies.

    Perhaps you should read what was written above with comprehension. Does you DAN! doc have a protocol to help your reading comprehension?

  88. #88 Chris
    March 9, 2010

    Rats! Snerd beat me to a comment. My last comment is addressed to Pandaling.

  89. #89 siyah
    March 9, 2010

    WTF leave these families alone. You don’t know one way or the other what works and what doesn’t. You are a bunch of loud mouth jerks without anything better to do than pretend you are right. Chelation works and has been used for many years. My grandson has very high levels of lead so high the county has come in and is trying to determine the source. It is not his home and they are looking into every where he goes. Guess what he has autism and chelation is what they suggested treating him with. Children with autism can’t get rid of heavy metal burdens and my grandson is the proof they can’t even figure our where he is getting the exposure from. This is common not uncommon in these children. Before you spout off about this doctor you might check and see what the childs levels of metals were.

  90. #90 Chris
    March 9, 2010

    siyah:

    Chelation works and has been used for many years.

    And yet another reading comprehension fail.

    Yes, chelation works for real heavy metal poisoning. This is something that Tariq Nadama did not have. But Dr. Usman (one of the doctors being sued) ordered that he get chelation, and he is now dead.

    Please explain that away.

  91. #91 snerd
    March 9, 2010

    You don’t know one way or the other what works and what doesn’t.

    Indeed? If only there was some scientific way of investigating these claims whilst minimizing confirmation bias and so on.

    A man can dream I guess.

    This record, it is scratched.

  92. #92 Broken Link
    March 9, 2010

    This post has been mentioned (although, of course not linked to) on AoA. Cue the influx of anti-vaxers in 3, 2, 1 . . . .

  93. #93 Broken Link
    March 9, 2010

    snerd, there is indeed a way to investigate these claims. It’s called the double-blind placebo controlled study. Recently, it’s been applied to study whether digestive enzymes have an effect on the symptoms of autism. Despite the claims of many people who benefit from selling enzymes, they have no effect on the symptoms of autism.

    J Autism Dev Disord. 2010 Mar 5. [Epub ahead of print]
    Digestive Enzyme Supplementation for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial.

    Munasinghe SA, Oliff C, Finn J, Wray JA.

    State Child Development Centre, PO Box 510, West Perth, WA, 6872, Australia, munass01@student.uwa.edu.au.

    To examine the effects of a digestive enzyme supplement in improving expressive language, behaviour and other symptoms in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial using crossover design over 6 months for 43 children, aged 3-8 years. Outcome measurement tools included monthly Global Behaviour Rating Scales, Additional Rating Scales of other symptoms by parents and therapists, and monthly completion of the Rescorla Language Development Survey. Compared with placebo, treatment with enzyme was not associated with clinically significant improvement in behaviour, food variety, gastrointestinal symptoms, sleep quality, engagement with therapist, or the Language Development Survey Vocabulary or Sentence Complexity Scores. A small statistically significant improvement on enzyme therapy was seen for the food variety scores. No clinically significant effect improvement of autism symptoms with enzyme use was shown with this trial, however, possible effects on improvement in food variety warrants further detailed investigation.

    PMID: 20204691

  94. #94 Natalie
    March 9, 2010

    Broken Link, I think snerd was being sarcastic. Interesting study, though.

  95. #95 Calli Arcale
    March 9, 2010

    Pandaling @ 85:

    What’s wrong with DAN doctors??? My son improved so much after the treatment!!! If not because of the DAN doctor, he’ll be still non-verbal and throw terrible tantrums… He is a healthy little boy, improving everyday!

    It’s wonderful to hear that! It’s clear you love him very much, and that is as it should be.

    But how do you know the treatments improved your son? How do you know he would not have gotten better anyway? Are the biomedical treatments the only thing you are doing with your son? Probably not; I’m sure you’re doing everything that seems like it might help. Just like most parents whose children have challenges; we care about our kids. But how can you know which interventions are helping?

    You might be able to scientifically investigate, using your child as an N of 1, but that would be irresponsible. To scientifically determine which treatments are helping, you’d have to *withhold* other treatments during the same timeframe, and what parent in their right mind would do that? I wouldn’t, and I’m sure you wouldn’t either. After all, it’s not about science; it’s about our children.

    But that leaves us just guessing, and that’s a horrible place to be. You don’t want to give something harmful, or waste precious time on a worthless intervention, to say nothing of the money. (I don’t know your financial situation, but for a lot of folks right now, money is tight. Paying a therapist *and* the heating bill may be a problem for some folks.) So we turn to science performed with other children. With one child, the only control you can have is when the child is receiving no treatment, but with a very large number of children, you can make comparisons without withholding all treatment from anybody. If you have enough numbers, there are more humane ways of removing the confounders (like the really big one, that different kids mature at different rates, with even more variation if they’re autistic).

    I don’t know your son. I don’t know if your DAN! doctor really did anything to help him. All I know is that my daughter and my brother both have done very well without a DAN! doctor, without chelation, without chemical castration, without withholding gluten/casein, etc. And they’re fully vaccinated. Though I cannot know for certain what to credit, I think it’s a combination of the educational interventions they had and their own natural development. I am strongly of the opinion that educational interventions are the most effective. Never underestimate the power of the human brain to *learn*. Autistic children are learning impaired, but not incapable of learning; they just learn very differently from regular folks. So, if you teach them differently (and with a lot of patience because it is time-consuming), they can overcome that difference. And if you start it early enough, you can affect their neural development. They’ll still be autistic, they’ll still be who they are, but with luck, they can advance enough to be independent. And that’s what parents really want, isn’t it? To see their chicks fledge, so to speak?

    Of course, there are medical interventions that may ease some of the challenges along the way. My daughter uses methylphenidate to help her focus during school. Some kids use antidepressants. And of course, adequate nutrition is vitally important. Also, since learning is more difficult for these kids, discomfort is harder for them to tolerate. So if they have other chronic disorders, they need to be managed. My daughter has acid reflux disease, which we are struggling to get under control. (It runs in the family; she gets it from me.) I know she’ll be more successful when she doesn’t have heartburn fouling her mood.

    For this reason, some of what the DAN! doctors suggest is plausible. But I would be very reluctant to try it unless it had proven itself somewhere, especially if it’s a drug. (And I consider supplements to be drugs. If it’s meant to do something, it’s a drug.) I’d want more than just testimonials, because there’s no way to know what really did the fix in those. I want more than optimism.

    siyah @ 89:

    WTF leave these families alone. You don’t know one way or the other what works and what doesn’t. You are a bunch of loud mouth jerks without anything better to do than pretend you are right. Chelation works and has been used for many years. My grandson has very high levels of lead so high the county has come in and is trying to determine the source. It is not his home and they are looking into every where he goes. Guess what he has autism and chelation is what they suggested treating him with. Children with autism can’t get rid of heavy metal burdens and my grandson is the proof they can’t even figure our where he is getting the exposure from. This is common not uncommon in these children. Before you spout off about this doctor you might check and see what the childs levels of metals were.

    You may notice that it is the DAN! doctors who are being criticized here, not the families. I see the DAN! doctors as victimizing the families, though perhaps unintentionally. If we don’t know what works, then what makes you think the DAN! doctors do?

    Chelation is basic chemistry; it is very effective at binding various metal ions so they can be removed from the bloodstream by the kidneys. That doesn’t mean it cures autism, of course. It does treat mercury poisoning, but it cannot reverse the effects; damage due to real mercury poisoning (which has different symptoms than autism) is irreversible. Chelation is rather crude, though. The chemicals do not know which metal ions you want and which metal ions you don’t; the best you can do is pick a chelator which a) you can get into the blood and b) won’t strip out too many of the metal ions that you require for life. Disodium EDTA is often used in intravenous chelation therapy; this is the drug that killed Abubakar Tariq Nadama, an autistic boy. It is FDA approved only for acute lead poisoning, where the risk of lead poisoning exceeds the risk of harm from the EDTA itself. EDTA is very good at removing metals, but one of its favorites is not mercury or lead. It’s calcium. The deaths due to EDTA chelation (others have occurred in adults being chelated in a hopeless* effort to treat atherosclerosis) have occurred due to hypocalcemia. Your muscles require calcium ions to contract, and if you strip enough calcium, it will stop your heart and it will be impossible to restart it. (Defibrillator won’t work; you can shock the heart all you like, but if there’s no calcium, it physically cannot beat. You’d have to do CPR while desperately attempting to raise blood calcium levels, and even that would be only a faint hope.)

    There are other chelators, of course. DMSO, frequently promoted by DAN! physicians as it can be given orally, was recently found to cause neurological damage in rats at doses comparable to those used in humans. That’d be ironic, given what the doctors are prescribing it to treat.

    Most chelators can cause kidney damage. It’s basic mechanics there. These are fairly hefty molecules that the kidneys have to pull out, and if there are a lot of them, it can overtax the kidneys.

    There is another concern as well. You say we should find out what the child’s mercury levels were. I think that’s prudent, though of course none of us is (or even should be) privy to that sort of information. I have reason to be wary, though. A lot of DAN! doctors use “challenge” tests to measure mercury levels. They give a chelating agent (which obviously has not been indicated yet!) to the patient and then measure mercury levels in the urine. But everybody has *some* mercury; it’s normal to have a little of just about everything that occurs in the Earth’s crust. If you take a chelator, the level in your urine will go up dramatically, no matter what. The DAN! doctors then compare these values against normal reference values — but the normal reference values for mercury in urine are for an unchallenged test. That means this test is a guaranteed positive, no matter what. Maybe you don’t smell a rat over that sort of thing, but I do. And I think the actual rat is Doctor’s Data, a lab which runs a great many of these tests and therefore stands to gain financially if people are led to believe they need to get this test done very frequently for many years.

    * Chelation with EDTA was once hoped as a means of “roto-rootering” clogged arteries. The logic is sound; arterial plaques are mostly calcium, and EDTA is good at removing calcium. The problem is that EDTA is very bad at passing cell wall barriers. (This is why it’s perfectly safe to rub it into your scalp — EDTA is a common ingredient in shampoo. It can’t get into your blood.) You can’t even absorb it if you eat it, because it won’t pass through the intestinal walls. Arterial plaques, it turns out, are calcium deposits *inside* of dead cells. The EDTA can’t reach the calcium to chelate it.

  96. #96 siyah
    March 9, 2010

    you are nothing but a bunch of chattering fools. My grandson is doing remakable after chealtion. His speech teacher said that at this point she would not even put him in a catagory of autism anymore. He would just be considered delayed.

  97. #97 Scott
    March 9, 2010

    @96:

    Please provide the evidence that demonstrates your grandson’s improvement is due to chelation and not simply the natural progression of his condition. If you have no such evidence, you have no grounds to make such conclusions.

  98. #98 Calli Arcale
    March 9, 2010

    siyah: that does happen sometimes, even without any treatment at all. It’s called “growing up”. I see no plausibility whatsoever to chelation therapy, and I have seen no scientific evidence provided by the hundreds of practitioners who keep pushing this untested process on children. Therefore, I unfortunately have to conclude that you are taking a wonderful, great success that your grandson has made and taking all the credit away from him and giving it instead to the chelationists.

    Do you have any evidence he was mercury poisoned in the first place? Let me guess: like most DAN! doctors, they did a “challenge test”, gave him a chelator, and screened his urine. That’s a bogus test; it’s guaranteed to give a positive in all situations. If that’s all you have, then you don’t even know whether he had mercury poisoning to begin with.

    My brother is not in a “category of autism” today. He’s a healthy, functioning adult attending college. He has never been chelated. It does happen.

  99. #99 gaiainc
    March 9, 2010

    Siyah, chelating for high levels of lead is standard medical practice. It’s what doctors do all the time. I used to do this regularly in residency in the US Northeast. I admitted the kids and I watched them like a hawk because giving them the chelators could kill them.

    That said chelation does squat for autism. The kids I chelated for elevated lead levels were not autistic. This is not to say that the two conditions can’t be in the same kid at the same time. That would be silly. However your grandson’s chelation helped his lead poisoning not his autism. Autism is developmental delay NOT stasis. Kids improve despite anything we do. It’s possible that your grandson’s lead levels were making him feel sufficiently ill and that lowering his levels made him feel better so that his development proved. This is possible, but that still doesn’t make the chelation the cure or treatment for his autism.

    Apologies for any typos or weird sentences. I’m on a smartphone and
    it’s hard to edit.

  100. #100 Science Mom
    March 9, 2010

    This comment from a Teresa Conrick on an AoA Blogpost entitled, “Chicago Tribune Trumpets Another Anti-Treatment Autism Lawsuit. Why?”

    While googling to find the Tribune article, I instead found Orac’s site. Who is Orac? Well, suffice to say that he has some mysterious desire to want autism to be only a genetic disorder. He gets upset if you discuss vaccines or the environment as causative factors. The usual suspects of the neurodiverse world and the assorted anonymous Wackosphere characters were hanging out at his site with their typical sarcasm and “blood-thirsty” DAN! comments. Orac though was beyond his usual histrionic self as his comments were pointed at the exact wording of the lawsuit. He actually had the lawsuit in a pdf file for the taking on his site! Now how, within hours of the Trib posting and to be exact, the Trib article by Patricia Callahan was posted online at 5:19 p.m. CST, March 4, 2010 and Orac had his pdf and blog up at March 5, 2010 3:00 AM. Appears to be quite bizarre and a bit suspicious?

    What makes this even more concerning is that Dr. Usman herself had not received the lawsuit, all 46 pages to be exact, yet anyone could obtain it from Orac. The question remains how did Orac get it and who gave it to him? He is a vocal critic of the research on the environment/vaccines causing autism reality and spends an inordinate amount of time protesting research and treatments as he blogs to what appears to be an agenda, and now displaying lawsuits to try and shut them up. But why?

    What coincidence? Does she not know about RSS feeds? People emailing interesting materials to one another? They are really operating in an alternate universe there. She is projecting the agendas and obsessions with biomed and vaccines by the curebies on anyone that would deign to dispute their science-free assertions.

  101. #101 Chris
    March 9, 2010

    Obviously Orac’s sources are better than Dr. Usman’s sources.

    Has Usman ever explained her orders to Dr. Kerry?

  102. #102 mikerattlesnake
    March 10, 2010

    @96 Siyah

    Of course, calli types a well-educated, informative, lengthy (yet as concise as it could be) post without being condescending or insulting to you or your grandson that offers some alternative explanation to the con-artist who has taken your money and time and she gets this in response. You should be ashamed of yourself for willing ignorance upon yourself and your family. Autistic kids improve on their own on the order of about 1/10-1/5. Do you really think it’s impossible that your grandson was in that group?

  103. #103 Mike Stanton
    March 10, 2010

    @ Todd

    try this link for Jack Piper I know it is the Daily Mail. But this time they got it right.

  104. #104 Old rockin' Dave
    March 11, 2010

    Does anyone want to bet that they submitted the bogus diagnosis to the insurer, committing fraud? And that while they claimed to be treating metals poisoning, that they failed to report a mandated reportable condition?
    They should be investigated by the appropriate authorities.

  105. #105 Old Rockin' Dave
    March 13, 2010

    I noticed that while the question of harm/no harm has been discussed here, no one has raised the issue of pain and suffering. Treating a toddler with multiple IVs, probably requiring restraints, and with multiple suppositories, for a condition he does not even have, strikes me as harm in and of itself, as well as needless infliction of pain and suffering.

  106. #106 Dianne
    March 17, 2010

    I have to wonder how much of this lawsuit actually has to do with this man’s feelings regarding DAN treatments, and how much of it has to do with the custody fight. Did I miss something, or wasn’t this man parenting his child at all during these treatments? I just can’t imagine getting away with long-term treatments of ANY kind for one of our children if my husband objected. What would I do, sneak my kid out in the middle of the night?

    And that said, shouldn’t parents take some responsibility themselves for researching treatments and getting second opinions, or can we really lay all of the blame at the feet of these DAN docs? I mean, if you’re already going against mainstream recommendations in refusing vaccines, etc., doesn’t it make sense that you would give at least that much thought to other decisions? I don’t blindly follow ANY physician’s advice with regard to my health or my family’s, so if I start giving supplements, etc. to my child simply because a DAN doctor says I should, just how would I absolve myself of guilt if something, heaven forbid, should go wrong? I’m not saying that a doctor isn’t also liable for peddling scientifically unproven treatments if they could be harmful, but where’s the parents’ common sense if they accept every single one of them as safe without question? Never once has my internist reviewed possible short or long-term side effects of anything he has prescribed to me, so which one of us is truly at fault if I fail to read the enclosed literature and/or question my pharmacist?

    My husband and I DO pursue natural treatments to help improve our autistic son’s health, and reading up on DAN protocol has given us a lot to think about and talk to our doctors about. Some have made sense to us and have been mainstream pediatrician-approved before starting, even though our pediatrician would never have suggested them himself. And, of course, some have been just too frightening, in our opinions, to consider. I don’t think it’s fair to lump all DAN doctors and all parents who pursue DAN protocol into one nasty pool, because it’s been my experience that they are as varied as anyone else – some are willing to throw everything at it, trusting that someone else has done the research to prove it all safe – and some creep along slowly, picking out only the tried and true (like eliminating McFoods from the diet and giving whole food vitamins instead of sugary synthetics – wow, now that’s just a horrible thing to do to a child! LOL).

    The bottom line for us is that we feel we owe it to our son to educate ourselves about all treatments available, whether biomedical or simple therapies, and ask, ask, ask. Regardless of the type of protocol a doctor decides to pursue – mainstream or alternative – he/she is still not a god and should always be questioned. My father, a Navy Corpsman and hospital administrator for 34 years, always said to us, “What do you call a person who graduates at the bottom of their class in medical school?” The answer, of course, is “doctor,” meaning that we should never be afraid to question and always take responsibility for making good decisions based on the best information available – a doctor and patient are a team. I worked for a doctor who would prescribe medications just minutes after a drug rep dropped off samples, feeling completely comfortable that the meds were safe because someone else had done the research for him, and since I can never be sure if that’s the type of doctor I’m seeing, I question. And my father is now in end-stage liver failure caused by a diabetes drug that was completely FDA-approved, so if I want to give my son a few extra vitamins that his ped says won’t help, but won’t hurt, who’s to say which of us was smarter?

    Just my two cents worth, which I’m sure will be ripped apart by someone, given the lack of respect we all seem to show to other parents who might be misinformed and/or too trusting, but who surely love their children as much as we do and are just trying to do their best.

  107. #107 Kathleen
    July 12, 2010

    Diane at #106

    Yes, as a parent, you should make informed decisions. Educate yourself-read all that you can. Yes, there is teamwork between a doctor and a patient AND not all doctors are great..there are some that just stink. It took us three tries before we found someone who was able to take the time to explain things to us and more importantly who respected our children. It has made a huge difference. I think what Prometheus said in #80 is well worth reading for any parent.

    I take huge issue with the title DAN doctor-it implies that they are somehow more knowledgeable or better educated in autism-that they are experts. They are not. For a really well written post on what it takes to be a DAN doc, read this http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/2008/11/dan-doctors-are-not-autism-experts.html

    Being misinformed or too trusting is not an excuse. Loving your children is not an excuse.
    .
    “So what if I want to give my son a few extra vitamins that his ped says won’t help, but won’t hurt, who’s to say which one of us is smarter?”

    Science is.

    This post isn’t just about a few vitamins. It isn’t just about putting your child on a diet. It is about the very real harm that can be done to a child through unproven and oft times dangerous unnecessary treatments-pawned off on parents “just trying to do their best” by unscrupulous woo meiste’rs who mislead people with the title of DAN.

  108. #108 Tony Mach
    January 14, 2012

    “there’s one thing I’ve never been able to figure out, it’s why more victims of physicians using potentially dangerous treatments with no scientific basis to support them don’t sue for malpractice.”

    Many people start believe in a treatment and even participate in advertising it to friends or on the internet. You become complicit. And when things don’t work out, you still believe its merits, and start to blame yourself instead of the quack. Or you feel guilty and don’t want to talk about it. And many people have a problem with admitting in public that they were wrong.

    Something similar is happening with financial fraud – people participate, become complicit and when they are left without their savings and possibly a big debt, they don’t want to talk about it.

    Been there, done that (both with financial quacks and with medical quacks) and hope maybe the next time I am wiser.