In Australia there is an estimated 18,000 deaths and 50,000 permanent disabilities caused by medical practitioners registered with the AMA – every year! This is people dying or being disabled as a direct result of their professional medical treatment, and usually while in hospital.
These statistics are hotly contested but the fact remains that a significant number of people are dying or injured as a direct result of their professional medical care. Worse, nothing seems to be changing.
These deaths and disabilities are generally the result of incompetence, often related to not following existing procedures. This includes doctors prescribing wrong medications, not checking for allergies to medications, or doses too high, or operating on the wrong body part, or even the wrong person. I recall going to hospital for an operation on my foot at age 14. Just days before it had been reported that surgeons had removed a man’s leg – but the wrong one. I drew arrows all over my feet pointing to the right one!
Disturbingly there is no requirement to report ‘mistakes’ as mistakes. No one is subjected to punitive action as a result, unless the victim sues directly, which is generally too difficult and too expensive. There seems to be an overriding culture in the medical profession that ‘shit happens’. The simple fact is that these are mistakes and they can be fixed. The problem is that nothing is improving because of this attitude.
However, despite its own atrocious record, The Australian Medical Association recently took aim at Naturopathy, condemning it as untested, unsafe and as having no place in treating, in this case, dermatological conditions, after a naturopath was arrested when a young child became seriously ill from alleged mistreatment. (Imagine if they arrested every doctor who made a mistake? Well, they aren’t, so perhaps this demonstrates just how ‘protected’ doctors are.)
And now they want to condemn all practitioners of a system that they object to because…? Firstly, from my observations, I have found that the antagonistic attitudes of the AMA are a reflection of a minority within the establishment. I believe it is a mix of the arrogance of elitists within the AMA, and their ignorance of natural therapies. Interestingly the recognised natural therapies in Australia all require university degrees that incorporate much of the same subject matter AMA registered professionals do – anatomy, physiology, biology etc. (Osteopathy is a 5 year degree, longer than the degree for your GP.)
The biggest difference between natural therapies and AMA registered professionals is the prescription of medications. In fact your GP has spent just a matter of weeks studying nutrition and exercise. Much of their degree is about the interaction of the human body with pharmaceutical drugs. This is one reason people engage in natural therapies – they don’t see prescription drugs as the solution to all their health needs.
I am a huge supporter of naturopathy. Ironically, this is because the modern medical establishment was unable to resolve my 5 year old daughter’s ‘dermatological conditions’ (eczema). We were seeing one of Australia’s most eminent gut specialists, but treatment was cut short because he was hauled before the AMA for having a sexual relationship with the mother of one of his patients. And he charged $800 per hour.
My daughter was assessed by our naturopath and dietary recommendations and supplements were recommended. They worked. She gained weight, grew significantly in height in just a few months, and her eczema is almost entirely resolved (it flares if she has to take antibiotics, but we are working on that.)
Naturopaths are university qualified and belong to a registered body (ANTA – Australian Natural Therapies Association) which, like the AMA, endeavours to uphold standards. Their approach is holistic and unobtrusive. However, I strongly believe that you must be on top of things – you need to do your research: find a recommended practitioner and check out their qualifications and membership with ANTA.
Our naturopath was recommended through a mum at our daughter’s school whose child had been successfully treated for multiple allergies. We also consulted a naturopath who was a GP as well. She viewed both modalities as essential to holistic wellbeing.
Medicine and treatments are becoming more complex as they become more specialised. Increasingly a specialist in one field knows less about what the specialists in other fields know. This means that you need to be the one keeping everything in perspective.
Health care is no longer something you can simply leave up to your GP or specialist, or the professional in the field you are working with. You need to take responsibility and take charge. You pay these people, and so they effectively work for you, and they are answerable to you. My recommendation is that you find professionals who will respond to your questions and acknowledge your need to have a complete picture.
If your needs are more serious, find the right people. Whatever profession or modality you are engaging, there are some people who are better at their job than others – so find them.
There are multiple modalities that are available for your health care. I have written a post on this before, and you can check it out here.
Please note: I have received some feedback from this post and would like to clarify that supporting complementary therapies practised by University educated members of ANTA is entirely different to supporting ‘quacks’. The AMA premise their arguments against natural therapies upon horror stories that are better attributed to people who promote ‘cures’ for cancer etc. and delay or prevent recommended treatments by cancer or other specialists – often with fatal results. Rest assured, if I were to receive a diagnosis for cancer I would be looking for the best oncologist on the planet! But then I would also be looking into complementary therapies as well, simply because they are, by definition, complementary.