This is not at all funny but I guess ironic might be a better word.
The science blogosphere has been alight this past week with the recognition of naturopathy by the state of Minnesota as well as other aspects of alternative medicine.
As if the risks of going to an alternative practitioner are not enough, here is an alarming case from Sacramento, CA, of a patient dying at the hands of someone posing as a chiropractor:
Authorities said Antonio Arellano, 76, was taken into custody on suspicion of homicide after operating his clinic in the 4000 block of Washington Avenue.
On Tuesday, a 66-year-old man was accompanied by his wife during a trip to Arellano’s home to get a physical adjustment to relieve pain, police Sgt. Matt Young said.
Arellano adjusted the victim’s neck, seriously injuring him. Police said the man was driven to the UC Davis Medical Center and placed on life support.
The victim, whose name was not provided, was eventually declared brain dead, Young said.
Again, not to make light of this tragedy, but how is a patient to know whether a charlatan is posing as a charlatan?
Ryan Lillis in The Sacramento Bee provides us with more information regarding this “practice:”
Arellano had run an unlicensed chiropractic business out of his garage for some time and the victim had gone there to receive treatment to alleviate pain in his extremities, police said. [emphasis mine]
The comment thread at the SacBee is running pretty hot with readers debating whether the case reflects the need for affordable health care vs. blind belief in alternative medicine. Commenter sirrebral writes:
The fact that someone can offer health services in his garage…and that people are actually willing to pay for those services…lends credence to the argument that this country has a need for an affordable health care program. People do some crazy things when they can’t afford the alternatives.
To me, however, this case extends our discussion on the risks of allowing unqualified individuals to use the title of “Doctor.”
[Clarification to my Ph.D. colleagues: yes, we use the term "Doctor" in our respective disciplines but outside of psychologists, none of us do so with the intent to treat patients. My views are still mixed on whether Pharm.D.s should be using the term "Doctor."]