Angry Doctor

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cow Dung 8

More news from Ye Olde Country:

(emphasis mine)

$2.2m for brain injury after detox diet

THE family of a British woman who suffered brain damage following a “detox” diet warned on Tuesday of the dangers of such regimes.

Ms Dawn Page received more than £800,000 ($2.2 million) in an out-of-court settlement after a diet in which she increased her water intake and decreased the amount of salt she consumed.

The 52-year-old mother of two, from Faringdon, southern England, began vomiting severely soon after starting the “hydration diet” in 2001. She was left with epilepsy and a brain injury affecting her memory, concentration and ability to speak normally.

She gave up her job as conference organiser and her family says she will not work again.

Ms Barbara Nash, the nutritional therapist she consulted, allegedly assured her that the vomiting was part of the detoxification process. Ms Nash, who calls herself a “nutritional therapist and life coach”, denies liability in the case and insists she was not guilty of substandard practice.

But Ms Page’s husband, Geoff, 54, yesterday warned of the dangers of “fad-type” diets. He said his wife was not obese but had just wanted to lose some weight.

“Just days after she started the hydration diet, she began to feel unwell ... Things went from bad to worse ... Her life has been seriously affected, perhaps ruined,” he said.

Geoff said his wife was advised to drink at least four pints of water a day. The therapy was known as the Amazing Hydration Diet. He added: “It’s important people understand how dangerous diets like these are.”

Ms Nash has a diploma from the College of Natural Nutrition, based in Tiverton, Devon.

Plexus Law, the firm that represented her in court, said all allegations of substandard practice made in the litigation would continue to be “firmly denied” and the settlement agreed was less than half the total claimed.


Dr Crippen blogged about this earlier this month.

angry doc is surprised that Ms Page's husband was not 'gagged' as part of the legal settlement. He is not, however, surprised by the fact that he took the settlement - £800,000 is a considerable sum of money, and there was no guarantee that he would have won the case had it gone to trial.

As angry doc understands it, in medical malpractice law, a doctor is "not guilty of negligence if he has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art". If the same principle applies to practitioners of alternative medicine, then it may not matter how little evidence of efficacy or safety there is behind a mode of therapy - as long as most other practitioners are doing the same thing, it's OK.

This legal principle, known as the Bolam Test, has traditionally relied on the opinion of the 'professional body'. It is therefore important for us to look at the body of knowledge and evidence on which each professional body builds it opinion on.

Are there any good reasons or evidence to suggest that drinking four pints of water a day while restricting salt intake is a safe and effective way to lose weight? Or that "[w]ater and natural salt, when combined together, give you everything your body and mind need"? Or that homeopathy works? For that matter, how do you know if the treatment your 'western' doctor is giving you is evidence-based?

angry doc thinks all 'consumers' of healthcare need become more critical and discerning, and develop the habit of requiring evidence from their healthcare providers. It's not only about making sure that your money is well-spent - it is also about safety.

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