Science In Brief

Chiropractic Literature Review


The Study: The perils of complementary alternative medicine.


The Facts:

  1. The authors state there are over "11,000 articles lauding alternative Medicine" in PubMed.
  2. However, there are few articles which describe complications from alternative medicine.
  3. They indicate that two patients have been seen in their hospital with complications from alternative medical treatment.
  4. They go on to state that one patient suffered from necrotizing fascitis following acupuncture while the second developed an epidural hematoma following chiropractic care.
  5. They then say that these complications should be a "clarion call" to health ministries around the world and specifically the Israeli Health Ministry "to include complementary medicine under its inspection and legislative authority."
  6. They say that health ministries should include an education on hygiene and safety issues in order to improve care by alternative providers.
  7. They further state they are not trying to scold alternative medical providers and acknowledge that traditional medicine has "problematic consequences" as well but that the medical providers "practice under, severe surveillance in an environment conducive to damage control."

Take Home:

The gist of the paper is that because two cases of complications following care with alternative medicine were seen in a hospital, which I would assume has seen many complications due to medical care, alternative medicine should be regulated by health ministires.

Reviewer: Roger Coleman DC

Editor's Comments: This paper contains more than a small dose of hubris. For a group of medical researchers to get worked up over the "perils" alternative healthcare. two hospitalizations resulting from alternative care procedures seems pretty farfetched. After all, their own profession killed an estimated 142,000 people worldwide in 2013 alone through iatrogenic illness and medical errors. And while there's some truth in their contention that nations who neither license nor oversee alternative health care professions can do little to improve public safety, it's also equally true that in almost all cases it is the medical profession which fights tooth and nail to prevent licensing and legitimization for alternative health care providers of all types.

Editor: Mark R. Payne DC

Reference: Bayme MJ, Geftler A, Netz U, Kirshtein B, Glazer Y, Atias S, Perry Z. The perils of complementary alternative medicine. Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2014 Jul 25;5(3):e0019. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10153. eCollection 2014

Link to Abstract:

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