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October 14, 1990

AMA and FDA propaganda mills creak loudly with doctors Miriam Shuchman and Michael S. Wilkes' suggestion that patients seeking alternative medical care do so because they crave folksy conversation or a pat on the popo ("Acts of Faith," Aug. 26). Closer to the truth is a growing awareness of the true state of American medicine.

In 1981, L.A. doctors went out on strike in the face of widespread predictions of doom and death. It's a matter of public record that during the period when only emergency medical help was available, the death rate dropped dramatically.

And in 1984, following a lengthy study of American medicine, the federal government released a finding that concluded that only 10% to 15% of all treatments by licensed physicians are of any benefit whatsoever to patients. If 90 out of every 100 commercial airline landings resulted in crashes, would travelers be childish, immature and seekers of "a flicker of hope" if they patronized other methods of transportation?

As for the horror story on the AIDS patient, do the authors suggest that it would have been acceptable if he'd died at the hands of his MD rather than an alternative healer? To my knowledge, organized medicine hasn't found a cure for AIDS to date. Doesn't that also make the original doctor in the story a flake, a quack and a con artist?

IRA NICKERSON

Toluca Lake

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