Nevada homeopaths scrap retry at expanding scope of practice
Another short chapter has been written in the saga of one state’s flirtation and struggle with quackery. First, some background information. In 1983, the influence of a powerful state political leader led to the establishment of a Homeopathic medical licensing board in Nevada. The state quickly became a magnet for troubled and delicensed medical renegades who practiced a grabbag of quackery. Most popular were galvanic devices used as part of so-called “energy medicine.” The “energy” was alleged to be of the cosmic, metaphysical kind dubbed chi, prana, vital energy, and the like, by healing systems rooted in ancient superstitions. Few, if any, of the licensees were actually practicing traditional homeopathy. It was an incredible situation in which a fake system (homeopathy) was being faked, so that consumers could be exploited with another fake system (energy medicine). The devices are boons to quackery because they enable practitioners to create the illusion of diagnosing, treating or prescribing for phantom diseases. This places them in full control of the clinical situation. It also provides a defense against other physicians who testify as medical experts because they know nothing of these allegedly specialized devices which influences juries to favor the innovative defendant. In 1987, the legislature became aware that it had been snookered by the energy medicine merchants. The result was a new homeopathic practice act that specifically limited licensees to the homeopathic substances prepared according to the “methods of Hahnemannian dilutions and succussion, magnetically energized geometric pattern as defined in the official homeopathic pharmacopoeia of the United States.” Wow! what language. This was a classic example of the institutionalization of pseudomedical gibberish by scientifically illiterate lawmakers! Well, the medical renegades didn’t like it much either, and have plotted to undo the limitations of the practice act ever since.
The most recent attempt was to expand its licensee’s scope of practice by instituting its own new regulations to include virtually any type of alternative medicine as long as patients consented. However, opposition by the Nevada State Medical Association and the Board of Medical Examiners, plus the vow by Reno pathologist W.J. Diamond to sue the homeopathic board if it adopted its selfimposed practice expansion, caused homeopathic board chairman, Dr. Fuller Royal, to drop the proposal. [Las Vegas Review-Journal. 4/30/00] Comment. Royal refers to the resistance of standard medicine to the expanded scope as “a turf war,” and vows to try again in the future. Of course, it isn’t a true turf war in which equivalently competent practitioners are competing for the privilege of delivering legitimate health services. This is an issue of the legalization of buccaneer medical entrepreneurialism versus accountable evidence-based medicine, with consumers caught in the middle. The lesson to be learned here is that opposition by standard medicine can still be an effective way to thwart the advancement of quackery. Too many in leadership positions have given up fighting for the tenets of professionalism and consumer protection.
Copyright National Council for Reliable Health Information, Inc. May/Jun 2000
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