Sueing the AMA

The American Medical Association should be sued. A successful lawsuit would improve medical practice considerably, and it could even reduce malpractice costs.

Originally published 2005

The American Medical Association should be sued. A successful lawsuit would improve medical practice considerably, and it could even reduce malpractice costs.

Take poison ivy, for example. I recently found out from a friend that doctors are still prescribing industrial-strength cortico-steroids to “cure” poison oak and poison ivy, even though there is a simple soap that is 100% effective, with no health risk whatever. (For more information on that topic, see Curing Poison Oak and Poison Ivy.)

What’s criminal here is that this information has been known for more than 20 years. Yet doctors are still prescribing drugs with potentially harmful side-effects for a condition that doesn’t require any. (For instance,  topical steroids thin the skin, which can produce rosacea — a condition in which new skin cells rise to the surface too fast, so they appear red and blotchy instead of aging normally to produce the nice skin tones we expect.)

Another example: A simple chiropractic maneuver called traction that can potentially allow torn cartilage to slip back into place, and possible knit itself back together. But when I had just such a problem, the doctor in question was ignorant of that procedure, so he proceeded to recommend arthroscopy — a much more serious intervention that led to cartilage being clipped out, and only afterwards did I discover that it doesn’t grow back!
(Learn more: Healing the Knees)

It’s unlikely that one could sue a doctor for this problem. After all, they’re doing what they were trained to do in medical school, and they’re doing the best they know how to help. The problem is that they were never even told about far less severe procedures that in many cases are worth trying first.

Of course, the medical school they attended was funded in large part by drug companies, which explains a lot. Those companies are not even remotely interested in remedies that don’t require drugs — so the good doctor can hardly be blamed for his or her egregious ignorance.

The American Medical Association is another matter, however. They can and should be educating their members about such extremely simple, extremely effective remedies. Unless the American Medical Association can demonstrate that they did indeed inform the doctor, it is the American Medical Association that should be held liable.

One good lawsuit. That’s all it would take. The result would be an occassional bulletin that told doctors how to avoid drugs and how to treat simple ailments like poison ivy and poison oak effectively. The doctors would read those bulletins, too. After all, failing to do so would make them liable, once again.

Malpractice costs would drop as a result of sending those bulletins, because doctors would be better educated. Malpractice costs would also drop because “the AMA never told me” would turn into a practical defense. Of course, AMA membership fees would likely rise. But that fee increase would fund the ongoing education that should be part of every doctor’s training.

Copyright © 2005-2017, TreeLight PenWorks

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