Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD
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Ernst E. Ethics and Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:940. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-11-200306030-00017
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(11):940.
TO THE EDITOR:
Adams and colleagues (1) show us how to deal with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in a legally, ethically, and politically correct fashion. Despite all this, Ms. P., the patient in Case 1, is likely to develop cancer and die. This outcome would result not only from her preference for CAM over conventional therapy but also from the failure of her health care team to convince her otherwise. Significant proportions of CAM providers advise their clients against certain conventional treatments (2). To some degree, this reflects the failure of conventional medicine to get important messages across. If Ms. P. dies, she also dies of our political correctness in dealing with ill-conceived concepts within CAM and of our failure to adequately reason with CAM providers. A complete risk–benefit analysis should account for the paucity of good communication between the two camps. And truly ethical behavior should include serious attempts to improve this situation.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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