American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Letters

From the June 1997 ACP Observer, copyright 1997 by the American College of Physicians.

Snake oil and fraud?

I read Patients-and money-compelling doctors to look at alternative medicine in the February ACP Observer with some alarm.

It seems that we believe in science until we come to health issues. I have not seen any alternative form of physics or mathematics that has been able to put a spaceship on the moon, and I have not seen any evidence of alternative science that is based on quantum physics or the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

When I went to medical school, alternative medicine was known as quackery, snake oil and fraud. It is up to ACP to protect the scientific basis of our profession. To quote Nietzsche, "When we begin to believe in magic, we have lost the way."

Ralph L. Tieszen, FACP
Birmingham, Ala.

I was always under the impression that the training of a general internist concentrated on intellectual integrity and the ability to examine data objectively before initiating a treatment program. Using techniques and procedures that have no scientific merit-or referring to individuals who use such procedures-may help physicians financially, but they accomplish little else.

It is unfortunate that medicine, which was once viewed as a combination of art and science, has in some hands degenerated into commodity management.

Lawrence K. Harris, FACP
Wyomissing, Pa.

Despite the great progress that medicine has made during the past half century, many people continue to favor alternative treatments such as chelation, acupuncture and herbs. Even some HMOs that refuse to pay for a visit to a specialist physicians without a referral now pay for unreferred visits to a chiropractor.

It is disturbing that alternative treatments take money out of the medical pot to pay for useless treatments. I certainly hope that ACP has enough backbone to speak out against unproven treatments.

V. Bibb Saye, FACP
Baton Rouge, La.

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