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).

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Chiropractic Nightmare

Although it's old, this sensible Letter to the Editor of Dynamic Chiropractic is a good one:

Chiropractic Nightmare

Dear Editor:

It started with a feeling of unreality. It couldn't be a dream though. The paper he was browsing through was tangible; its ink had even stained his fingers. He used to read before going to bed. It helped to sedate him, and to fall asleep. Chiropractic literature in that case proved more efficient than sleeping tablets.

An ad had caught the eyes of Dr. Ingenuous. The professional journal he was reading displayed, as usual, a proliferation of publicity for various training courses, and he generally paged through it without paying attention to them. But there it was, more dreadful than ever, even nightmarish. He was plunged at once in an unknown planetary system. This couldn't happen on earth!

In his daily environment he was having social intercourse, he was taking care of people with a soul and all of a sudden he felt propelled in a foreign bleak microcosm. The words, the grammar he recognized, the meaning he feared to understand.

This is how the ad sounded:

"How to serve 1,200 people per week in a town of 3,000." "How to process over 50 new patients in one day."

And at last his eyes froze on the following sentence:

"Maximize your power to achieve $2,000,000 in service."

Dr. Ingenuous realized how pitiable he was. Now he wouldn't dare confess his income or the number of patients he treated. He personally felt overworked, but he definitely rated low in the hit parade of success as measured by the dollar standard.

On second thought, he decided that what he had just read couldn't be true. He was unable to slander, therefore, he imagined the advertisement fit a world quite different from his, where the hours of the day numbered much more than 24. This explained why so many people could be treated in such a period of time. He decided that these therapists had unlimited diagnostic acumen and used sophisticated tools so as to read into their patients' brains without wasting time in fruitless discourse. He also considered that in that part of the universe, scope of practice was unlimited and the therapeutic armamentarium flawless to the point of guaranteed success.

Could it be that the population of this world had no mind and the doctors didn't need to worry about an ethical conduct? A world of almighty practitioners with a population of totally submitted and compliant patients? A world with no medical challenge where happy issues were taken for granted?

But then why did so many patients need so much care? All this just didn't make sense. He considered at this point that he was analyzing the ad with inappropriate values. The remainder of his Judeo-Christian scruples and classical education were playing tricks on him again.

Being practical he wondered, though, how come the dollar was not integrated into the international system of unit. What a beautiful tool to measure success. Why waste time with randomized trials when it is so easy to quote income? Why bother with clinical skill and therapeutic know-how when patients' interest and well-being are not at stake?

The anticipated narcotic effect of the journal failed to work that night.

Jean-Paul Ladermann, D.C.
Geneva, Switzerland