Angered by what they call “quack MDs,” the AMA recently decided to “actively defend the profession.” In particular, it plans to
create ethical guidelines for physicians in the media, write a report on how doctors may be disciplined for violating medical ethics through their press involvement, and release a public statement denouncing the dissemination of dubious medical information through the radio, TV, newspapers, or websites.
Dr. Mehmet Oz of The Dr. Oz Show was specifically mentioned as being responsible for the type of behavior and “pseudoscience” that the AMA would like to curtail.
One of people who helped craft the AMA resolution to tighten control of doctors in the media is not, in fact, a physician himself, but only a medical student. He told Vox in an interview that “Dr. Oz has something like 4 million viewers a day. The average physician doesn’t see a million patients in their [sic] lifetime. That’s why organized medicine should be taking action.” In point of fact, Dr. Oz reaches only half that number—but let’s not let a little thing like accuracy stand in the way of an agenda.
Keep in mind that the AMA is not the voice of the medical profession. Its membership has slipped to the point where it represents only 17% of MDs, and many of those are free memberships given to medical students, yet it remains the fifth most powerful special interest on Capitol Hill, spending $19.7 million on lobbying in 2014. This gives it the clout to influence Medicare prices, make recommendations that shape national policy, and rake in about $218.8 million a year from its government-granted CPT medical code monopoly.
Dr. Oz is a high-profile example, but countless integrative doctors in states across the country routinely face harassment and the threat of having their licenses revoked by state medical boards for the most specious reasons—you may recall our past coverage of the Washington state board’s appalling crusade against Dr. Jonathan Wright as only one example among many. But when conventional doctors engage in behavior that is similar to that of integrative physicians—or when conventional docs flout the laws in the most egregious ways—state boards are far more lenient, if any action is taken at all.
The bias, then, is already overwhelmingly against integrative practitioners, and now the AMA is looking to take further steps to silence them. What will happen to doctors who don’t unflinchingly support the CDC vaccine regime, or who inform their patients of any alternative treatment that clashes with conventional orthodoxy? In Europe, it is already illegal for doctors to use the terms “probiotic,” “superfood,” and “antioxidant” when used in relation to commercial food products or supplements—and European doctors who even mention the benefits or health claims of any food, supplement, or non-drug product to patients face jail time. Will we allow free professional speech to be similarly suppressed here? Has the US come to this?
The only way that medical care advances and gradually becomes more scientific is by challenging orthodoxy. Doctors killed George Washington by repeatedly bleeding him. The doctor who first told physicians to wash their hands was scorned and harassed. The doctor who first found bacterial involvement in stomach ulcers was vilified until he was eventually exonerated and given prizes. As Gary Null showed so effectively in his book Death by Medicine, medical error is today the largest single cause of death in the US. How can there be advances or improvements if critics, researchers, and innovators are all gagged?
At ANH-USA, we believe in a free and open market when it comes to healthcare choices. By doing what it can to gag doctors’ free speech in the media, the AMA is indeed attempting to “defend the profession”—albeit from competition and change, not from those it dismisses as “quacks.”
Action Alert! Write to the American Medical Association and urge them not to go forward with these speech-suppressing ethical guidelines, which will unduly restrict our access to health information. We need to let them know that the American public will not stand for it. Please send your message immediately.