Dr. ORAC (you didn't think I'd really give up my real name here, did you?):I must say, I rather expected this. I'm just disappointed that I wasn't the first to complain, as the program appears to have already been canceled by the time "Mr. Smith" received my message. I'll try to do better next time--really. I was busy getting the Skeptics' Circle together and being on call, which delayed my complaint for several days. Mea culpa. Fortunately, my colleagues in the state apparently picked up the gauntlet.
Thank you for your feedback.
Due to similar comments and feedback from the professional clinical
community we have decided to cancel this program at our Center. Please
note that [FACILITY] offers several, much needed community seminars in all
of our communities each month intended to educate the general public on
care options that individuals may find beneficial. These
seminars/programs include topics such as Understanding Alzheimer's
Disease, Caregiver Support Groups, Arthritis Seminar's, Elder Care
Informational Seminars, etc.
Our goal is to educate, we never endorse. I do understand, respect and
in this instance, agree with your opinion, thus the cancellation. As a
health care provider that serves over 3000 seniors in [STATE] daily
in our Centers, please know that [FACILITY] has invested significant time,
financial and human resources aimed at redefining standards of care in
skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. I would hope that you
consider this primarily when considering the care your patients would
potentially receive with us, and not on the topics we present to the
I would be happy to discuss the quality initiatives our company has
implemented to demonstrate our commitment to excellence to clarify any
doubts you have regarding our dedication to quality of care.
Once again, I appreciate your feedback and letter, and can be reached at
them number below if you would like to discuss this further, and we
apologize if we have offended you - I can tell you with full confidence
that was not the intention of this program.
In any case, I really hate it when people like "Mr. Smith" try to weasel their company out of responsibility for choosing to sponsor a talk like this by saying something as mealy-mouthed and bureaucratic as, "our goal is to educate, never endorse."
Somebody from his company decided to pick this particular speaker, rather than other speakers who don't advocate therapies with no clinical or scientific support for the claims made for them. Somebody must have approved that first somebody's choice of speaker and the use of the company's facility. Somebody from "Mr. Smith's" company decided to mail out a flier to physicians, presumably all over the state, to advertise the talk. Letters like this give the impression that little gremlins must have somehow sneaked this speaker onto the company's "educational" program and mysteriously sent out all those fliers. Would the company have picked a speaker for their educational program whose viewpoint on treatment its officers strongly disagreed with? I doubt it.
But what pisses me off even more is this:
I would hope that you consider this primarily when considering the care your patients would potentially receive with us, and not on the topics we present to the community.Give me a break. He's been burned by a foolish decision that demonstrates a lack of ability to distinguish between treatments based on evidence and those not so based, and now he's trying to convince me that it's OK to send patients to his facilities. I'm sure "Mr. Smith" would argue that what they present to the public in their educational programs does not necessarily reflect on the quality of care they offer their patients. Maybe so. I don't entire buy it, though, and here's why: These "educational" sessions are almost certainly in reality marketing tools for the facility designed to build good will among the public, and for these marketing purposes, they chose a speaker pushing pseudoscience. If "Mr. Smith's" company doesn't even care enough to verify that the topics being presented to the public for "education"/marketing purposes on its premises meet minimal standards of scientific evidence, why on earth should I believe that his company makes sure that their care for patients meets those same standards? After this, how do I know they aren't giving chelation therapy to the elderly in their nursing homes? After all, they're letting some altie present totally unrealistic and unproven claims for chelation therapy to the public using their facility.
I recognize that it's possible (even likely) that this was nothing more than a mistake by someone putting together the educational program who did not have adequate knowledge and critical thinking skills to recognize pseudoscience and the obviously bogus claims contained in the flier. (Whenever someone claims the same therapy can treat many different diseases, it's a sure sign of pseudoscience or quackery, after all.) My rejoinder would be to ask why the company put someone in charge of the educational program who didn't know enough to recognize bogus claims to begin with.
I can only hope that "Mr. Smith" and the company have learned from this incident. I'll be watching. Next time, I might even sign up for the seminar and give the speaker a rather nasty surprise.