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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Truth about Trust


An Important Letter About Trust

I recently received the following letter from a Mercola.com reader. The name and specific profession of the writer have been withheld by request.

Dear Dr. Mercola,

Your last newsletter discussed "trust." I'm there on the front lines, providing primary care in an urgent care setting since 1977. In addition to being a licensed health care professional, I've been a serious student of alternative and complementary medicine since 1980’s.

A few years back I saw a gentleman in the clinic with diabetic neuropathy who had no feeling at all below either of his ankles. His feet were OK, free of ulcers or infection. He was on the usual blend of mainstream medications which were not helping.

I'd known him for years, so I suggested that he try two supplements:

* Alpha Lipoic Acid: Standard of care therapy for neuropathy in Europe. In fact, in Germany, it's malpractice NOT to prescribe Alpha Lipoic Acid for a patient with neuropathy.

* Adaptrin (also available as Padma-Basic): This is an ancient blend of 18 herbs which has a remarkable effect on the microcirculation. In other words, it works in the capillaries themselves to improve blood flow and oxygenation. Among its numerous benefits, many neuropathy patients have all feeling returned to their feet after two weeks on this stuff.

He asked me to write them down, so I did, having every expectation that he would be better in two weeks. When he asked his daughter to get these items, she took the list and rushed over to administration and complained. Next thing you know, I'm defending myself in a professional review action. I was condemned, in my own handwriting, by the suggestions I'd written down for the gentleman.

The issue was not the efficacy of the supplements. The committee didn't care whether they worked or not. Alpha Lipoic Acid may be the standard in Europe, but it's NOT the standard here. Their concern was that any deviation from the official mainstream published "standards of care" exposes the facility to liability. And Dr. Mercola, the sad part is, they're right.

By agreeing to stick with the "standards of care" in the future, they decided not to terminate me. I was officially counseled to NEVER discuss that "homeopathic stuff" with any patients. As a result of this experience, when I'm on the clock, I'm totally mainstream.

The take-home lesson of this experience is this: Trust works both ways. All it takes is one complaint from a patient or a family member to shut down an alternative provider. Even praise will do you in. If a patient tells another doctor, "Boy, that Sambucol really works. I never catch a cold." I'm in trouble again.

I'm not totally shut down. If a patient ASKS me about some alternative therapy, I will give them an honest and well-informed answer. But if you don't ask, I cannot tell. Another suggestion for a patient is to ask something like, "If you had my illness, what would you personally use to treat yourself." That I can answer honestly, because I'm not telling you to do anything.

Very few of the 38 percent of American adults that use complementary medicine ever show up here. The reality is that patients who go to mainstream clinics expect mainstream care. That's just the way it is. And I have to meet their expectations. The bottom-line is this: When you're a seeing person in a blind world, it's unwise to rearrange the furniture.

[Name and position withheld by request]


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