Toronto Star to CPSO: Don’t Muzzle Our Doctors

From the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s consultation on “Non-Allopathic” therapies comes a revised policy [PDF, starts page 249]. It’s a significant improvement (gone are references to “allopathic”), but it’s still muddled and equivocal when it comes to advocating for a single treatment standard. The Toronto Star is unimpressed with the revision:

Alternative medicine is booming even without much proof it works. A record 20,000 people are expected at Toronto’s Whole Life Expo at the downtown convention centre next weekend. Three-quarters of Canadians regularly use some form of natural health product, opening their wallets to spend at least $4.3 billion yearly. And the herbs and homeopathic tinctures they buy are just one facet of unconventional medicine — a thriving sector encompassing everything from acupuncture to zone therapy (supposedly stimulating the body’s organs through hand or foot massage).

Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons is bending to the trend with a new policy inhibiting doctors’ criticism of unconventional therapies. In doing so it risks encouraging even broader use of dubious and potentially harmful treatments.

The editorial calls it exactly right:

The college shouldn’t seek to accommodate that trend or retreat to a neutral corner. Rather it should leave doctors free to punch hard against those peddling dubious cures and to challenge people’s comforting, but irrational, beliefs. Science-based medicine serves patients best. If doctors can’t vigorously defend it, who will?

(Emphasis added)

See the full editorial here. The CPSO is poised to ratify the revised policy at their council meeting on November 28 and 29.