Science and how we know we are wrong
A reader has questioned angry doc's self-imposed quest to "fight against alternative medicine when there are far more dangerous issues within their own western medicine to fight for", citing the specific example of the topic covered in this news article, and advising that "western doctors solve their own problems first before talking about alternative medicine practitioners":
Super-bugs lurk outside S'pore hospitals
It's an alarming discovery.
A study by the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) suggests that drug-resistant bacteria may already be prevalent in the community at large. Based on skin swabs of 1,000 patients at the Accident and Emergency Department in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, more than 1 in 4 were found to carry the "ESBL and MRSA super-bugs" even before they were hospitalised. Some 25 per cent of the patients were found with ESBL, while 1.8 per cent were found with MRSA.
Experts had thought that these super-bugs were confined only to hospitals. Doctors say one reason for the presence of these super-bugs outside a hospital setting could be the misuse of antibiotics.
Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin, clinical director at the CDC, said: "In situations where we need to use antibiotics, we use them. But in situations like common cough and cold, where we know that it's likely caused by virus, the antibiotics are not going to be useful."
From next year, the CDC will work with grassroots organisations to collect more samples to determine the prevalence of these super-bugs in the population. — Channel NewsAsia
The cause of this problem, as pointed out in the article, is "the misuse of antibiotics".
Our reader elaborates:
"My GP often tells me that he knows about this problem but most patients want antibiotics and if he doesn't give it to them, they don't like it and he loses business. He also complained that MOH and HPB do nothing to support good doctors like him. On the other hand another clinic where the GP gives out antibiotics for every cold and flu that clinic's business is overflowing!
So much so my GP says he has started pandering to the crowd to survive.
Two wrongs don't make a right. But if the majority are doing wrong, while the minority does right....the wrong becomes the "right" to some people."
Fellow-Clearthought blogger i must be stupid points out that "[t]he problem of alternative medicine and the indiscriminant antibiotic use are 2 different types of problems... [o]ne is a regulation problem while the other is more of a problem with intellectual honesty".
angry doc agrees with him.
To angry doc the failure of western medicine shown in this article does not represent the failure of science, but the failure of the market. Actual practices sometimes fall short of evidence-based standards due to market factors, and that is an issue angry doc has blogged on many times.
In fact, this article illustrates one of the strengths of western medicine and science: that a system is in place to collect and review data, and that we are willing to change our practices based on the findings. The very fact that we recognise and acknowledge the problem of antibiotic resistance is an achievement in itself, because that is the first step towards finding a solution.
When was the last time alternative medicine looked at evidence and decided they needed to change their age-old traditional practices?