Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Monday, November 22, 2004

Man is charged in cancer death

Man is charged in cancer death:
He's accused of illegally practicing holistic medicine
By Amy Choate
Deseret Morning News

PROVO — A man who used unconventional treatments for a woman with breast cancer was arrested Tuesday and charged with three third-degree felonies involving unlawful practicing of medicine.

David Eugene Pontius, 61, allegedly treated Diane Shepherd for six months before Shepherd died from complications associated with her cancer on Oct. 20. During that time, Shepherd allegedly refused chemotherapy and surgery from her family physician and instead relied on Pontius' holistic treatment.

Pontius is licensed to practice holistic medicine in other states, according to his lawyer, Denver Snuffer. However, Utah does not recognize those licenses, and Pontius' efforts to obtain a license in Utah have been denied.

"There's a lot of nontraditional medicine that's accepted throughout the world," Snuffer said. "The fact that in Utah we don't view it with much favor doesn't mean that there isn't some legitimacy to that kind of medical practice."

Pontius first met with Shepherd in Provo at the home of Francis Perry in May 2004. Shepherd had been diagnosed with cancer by her family physician a month earlier. At that time, doctors advised her to have surgery to remove two malignant lumps - one in her right breast and one under her right arm.

According to documents filed in 4th District Court in relation to Pontius' arrest, Shepherd refused the surgery and instead met monthly with Pontius to receive treatment. The treatment methods included chiropractic adjustments, eating apricot kernels and reviewing body scans.

After one body test, Pontius allegedly determined that Shepherd's cancer originated from gangrene and mercury poisoning in her teeth. Court documents say a dentist has refuted that diagnosis.

'Utah limits dramatically and enforces with criminal penalties what Utah is willing to accept as appropriate medical care,' Snuffer said. 'That's where the problem in this case arises. . . . Medicine has a monopoly, and it's enforced by the licensing department from the state of Utah.'

Shepherd also received periodic checkups from an oncologist, who informed her that if she did not receive prompt treatment for her condition she would die by October, according to an arrest affidavit filed in the case. The affidavit states Pontius discouraged Shepherd from receiving chemotherapy because it 'kills both the good and bad cells and makes people sick.'

Following complaints filed in August by Shepherd's husband regarding Pontius' unconventional treatment of his wife, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing began investigating the situation and subsequently secured an arrest warrant for Pontius.

On Thursday, Pontius posted a $10,000 bail for the three charges of unlawful and unprofessional conduct. His first hearing is set for Thursday, Dec. 2, at 1:30 p.m. in 4th District Court in Provo.