Angry Doctor

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Lipstick on a Pig 2

Reading this letter to the ST Forum...

TCM practitioners not exempted from duty to provide proper medical care

WE REFER to Dr Ong Siew Chey's letter on Thursday ('Certifying TCM practitioners: It opened Pandora's box').

Although Western medicine is the mainstream health-care service in Singapore, traditional medicine services such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) remain popular and are increasingly gaining public acceptance.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act was enacted to safeguard patients' interests and safety, and to ensure an acceptable standard of TCM practice is maintained.

Singapore does not have double standards regarding medical practice. Every professional group has different qualifications, training requirements and scope of practice. TCM practitioners, by virtue of their training and practice, are not the same as Western medical practitioners. In the same way, nurses, pharmacists and other health-care professionals are also different. Therefore, not all health-care professionals could be viewed in the same way.

China's health-care practices and regulatory frameworks are different from Singapore's due to its historical and political development. While we have taken reference from China in the way TCM is regulated here, we are also developing our brand of regulatory framework, as Singapore is one of the first countries outside of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to regulate TCM.

We have much to learn and a long way to go, as the regulatory framework for TCM is still in the infancy stage compared to the regulatory framework for Western medicine. As a matter of fact, the current Singapore TCM regulatory framework has taken reference from the regulatory framework as set out in the Medical Registration Act and the Dentists Act, in particular, with regard to the disciplinary powers of the TCM Practitioners Board over TCM practitioners.

This is not a case where TCM practitioners enjoy any exemption from their obligation to provide proper and adequate medical care. If any TCM practitioner is found guilty of misconduct or improper behaviour, he will be dealt with by the TCM Practitioners Board.

We thank Dr Ong for his feedback, and welcome feedback and ideas from the TCM community, the health-care family and the public to make our TCM regulatory framework one of the best in the world.

Chuo-Ng Peck Hiang (Mrs)
Executive Secretary for Registrar
TCM Practitioners Board

reminded me of this post I wrote more than a year ago.

Now Mrs Chuo-Ng is factually correct in many of the statements she made: TCM is "popular and... increasingly gaining public acceptance", the TCM Registration Act is largely based on the same framework the Medical Registration Act and the Dentists Act, and TCM practitioners are subject to penalties if they are "found guilty of misconduct or improper behaviour".

But those points do not change the fundamental fact that TCM is a pseudoscience the theory and practice of which are not based on evidence, and that no amount of legislation or regulation is going to make it so. To want to "regulate" TCM before we can even demonstrate the existence of 'qi' is as ridiculous a notion as that of having a medium registry before we can proof that spirits or deities exist.

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  • Unless we are quite clear what we are regulating, sometimes just putting up fancy catch-phrases such as "regulatory framework" may not be useful to the average person on the street at all. In fact, it may skewed public's perception to the notion that whatever his/her TCM is doing has been firm groundings as endorsed by the TCM Board or even MOH.

    If we are not able to demonstrate the TCM principles reliably and repeatedly by some scientific means, who can ever question a TCM practitioner's rationale for prescribing a $10,000 Ginseng for 'bu qi'?

    Wherein can we expect professionalism and ethical codes to be upheld when the underpinnings are ever so subjective?

    By Anonymous Been There Done That, At January 09, 2011 9:02 pm  

  • Happened to read your blog... Me now having problems with a TCM clinic that sells packages. TCMPB cant do much cause they only regulates the practitioners and not the clinics... Just feels sad that the patients' interests is not protected by any governing body when it comes to TCM.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At April 29, 2011 9:43 pm  

  • Very helpful info, much thanks for your post.
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    By Anonymous Anonymous, At December 30, 2012 7:24 pm  

  • TCM cured me of nephrotic syndrome (overt proteinuria) where Western medicine had nothing except steroids to offer, and would have put me on dialysis. Yes, it is true that TCM is empirical, not scientific. And let me say here, I myself am a scientist. Nevertheless, it is precisely because TCM is based on a long history of empirical observations that it works together with body biochemistry, not against it as Western drugs often do, and that is why - if TCM treatments are properly matched to a person's biochemistry - they work well without side-effects. Drugs on the other hand are targeted at a set of symptoms or a particular organ with total disregard for the rest of the body, and do not even attempt to strike a match with each individual patient. But the real superiority of TCM over Western medicine derives from its purpose - to cure. TCM was never just a business. On the other hand, Western medicine does not seek to cure but to maintain the patient in a prolonged state of disease, since it is purely profit-oriented, and if the patient were cured, those vast profits would soon evaporate. It is sickening to see Western surgeons and doctors awarding each other honorary degrees or attending banquets at 5-star hotels while the patients they are purporting to treat ontinue to suffer the sequelae of their radical invasive surgery, or the devastating side-effects of their drugs. Western medicine will only demonstrate its real worth the day it ceases to be a big business, puts aside its arrogance, and really tries to cure. The day when nothing but the health of the patient matters. But in today's world in which universities seek prestige, surgeons and doctors seek public applause, and pharmaceutical companies seek profits, that day will never come. For that reason, despite its ancient roots and empirical basis, because it seeks only to cure, TCM is, and will always remain, the best medical system available to humanity. And we intend to ensure that it remains available to keep the ill, the sick, and the infirm away from the butchers, and slowly but surely, nurture them back to health.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 17, 2017 11:16 pm  

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