Thursday, March 8, 2012

CAM trying to break into Oregon

Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a belief system based on faulty reasoning and poor logic. Take for example this article discussing integrating CAM into the Oregon healthcare system.  As usual the article is full of non-sequiturs arguments that sound compelling but do not really support the overall claim. The reason CAM promoters use non-sequiturs is that an actual discussion of whether CAM treatments worked would lead any reasonable person to choose to not use CAM.

Remember the first question we should ask prior to using a treatment is: does it work? Then if it does work we should implement it. The problem is that most of CAM has not been proven to work and for much of it to work it would need to contradict some of our most trusted scientific ideas.

Jamie Sewell, the author of an article discussing Oregon's new Coordinated Care organizations (CCOs) (part of Oregon's Health care system) wants to see CAM used in these new CCOs. Her reasons are all flawed. First she cites the flawed idea that CAM treats the whole patient where modern medicine does not. This is simply a misunderstanding of modern medicine. Modern medicine treats underlying cause of disease when possible and when not it treats the symptoms. CAM often claims to provide treatments for things that modern medicine currently cannot treat.  But when closely scrutinized these CAM treatments are almost universally shown to not work. In reality CAM preys upon those who desperately want treatment when none exists by offering them false hope. Sewell points out that Oregon's CCOs are designed to reduce costs. Providing useless CAM treatments won't make patients any better and will just increase costs. Hardly the outcome intended by the CCOs.

Sewell also points out that CAM often costs less and often results in better patient satisfaction. Well, even if true those points are not relevant. If a cheap treatment doesn't work then every penny paid for it was a waste. A patient who is "satisfied" by a fraudulent CAM cancer cure is no healthier than a person who took no cure at all. Even worse, they may have delayed getting real medical treatment and thus decreased their chances of surviving.

Science has weighed in on CAM and shown most of it to not work. Thus, CAM has retreated to using rhetoric rather than evidence to support its position.  Those promoting CAM need to stop and take a deep look at their arguments. If all your arguments are based on misleading rhetoric it might be time to change your opinion.

No comments:

Post a Comment