Defending alternative medicine and autism: the charges against Anju Usman

14 Oct

In Illinois charges DAN doctor with unethical behavior, LBRB writer Ken Reibel discussed the case recently brought against alternative medical practitioner Dr. Anju Usman. These charges follow on a civil suit brought by the parent of an autistic child seen by Dr. Usman. This charges in this case will require that Dr. Usman defend many of the common practices in alternative medicine.

The complaint is:

DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION of the State of Illinois,

v.

ANJUM I. USMAN, M.D.

No. 200904994

One short paragraph in the complaint sums up a big piece of where this suit has the possibility to strongly influence how alternative medicine “treats” autism: None of the treatments described above has been proven to influence the course of autism.

Here is a section of count 1:

17. Hair analysis does not provide a basis for the diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity.
18. Provoked urine testing does not provide a basis for the diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity. The American College of Medical Toxicology has determined that provoked testing has not be scientifically validated, has no demonstrated benefit and may be harmful when used for assessing patients for metal poisoning.
19. Porphyrin testing does not provide a reliable basis for the diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity.
20. Although chelation therapy is FDA-approved for treating lead poisoning, it should not be used unless a non-provoked blood (not urine) test shows an extremely high level of lead.
21. Respondent did not obtain a confirmatory blood lead test or record any source of lead exposure.
22. The record contains no basis for concluding that chelation therapy was appropriate.
23. The record does not contain adequate infonlled consent for any of the prescribed nonstandard tests or treatments. The consent fonns used did not accurately present the risks and/or benefits of tests and treatments. Although it mentioned experimental drug use, these were not administered as part of a proper experimental protocol.
24. The informed consent form states that chelation therapy “is considered controversial for the generalized treatment of chronic low or high level lead toxicity, mercury toxicity, or for other heavy metal toxicities, either acute or chronic.” This statement is misleading because there is a clear scientific consensus that it is inappropriate for treating lead toxicity without demonstrating that toxicity exists and that the level is very high.
25. Throughout the treatment period, Respondent made statements to AC’s mother that the prescribed treatments had positive clinical benefits for children with autism, despite the lack of empirical research supporting Respondent’s position.
26. The record does not document any reason why AC should have received unproven treatments.
27. Spironolactone, which is potentially dangerous, was prescribed without justification.
28. Despite a nonnal selenium level, Respondent repeatedly and unnecessarily prescribed selenium supplements and continued to do so even when AC eventually showed a high level.
29. That Respondent abused the physician/patient relationship by taking unfair advantage of a patient’s vulnerability in that Respondent utilized unproven drugs and medicine to treat AC, a pediatric patient diagnosed with autism.
30. That the foregoing acts and/or omissions of Respondent are grounds for revocation or suspension of a Certificate of Registration pursuant to 225 Illinois Compiled Statutes (2002), Section 60122(A)(20), relying on the Rules for the Administration of the Medical Practice Act, Illinois Administrative Code Title 68, Section 1285.240(b)(1 )(C), and (2) (C).

There are many methods by which “heavy metal toxicity” is diagnosed by alternative medical practitioners. These methods are not demonstrated to be accurate, and are not accepted by actual medical toxicologists. These include hair analysis, provoked urine testing and porphyrin testing.

A prime example is provoked urine testing. A thorough discussion can be found here. A provoked urine test involves giving an individual a chelator and then testing the urine for heavy metals. Everyone (every thing, every animal) has some level of mercury. A chelator will force the body to excrete some level of the heavy metals inside, so it is no surprise that the levels obtained are “elevated”. The problem is that there is no standard by which one can compare the provoked urine to determine if the person actually has heavy metal poisoning.

The method is also called “challenge” testing. The American College of Medical Toxicologists have a position statement on this:

It is, therefore, the position of the American College of Medical Toxicology that post-challenge urinary metal testing has not been scientifically validated, has no demonstrated benefit, and may be harmful when applied in the assessment and treatment of patients in whom there is concern for metal poisoning.

More quotes from the complaint:

From Count III

That Respondent made false or misleading statements regarding the efficacy or value of the medicine, treatment, or remedy prescribed by Respondent in the treatment of any disease or other condition of the body in that Respondent made false or misleading statements regarding the efficacy of chelation therapy in the treatment of autism.

From Count V

29. That Respondent engaged in a pattern of practice or other behavior that demonstrates incapacity or incompetence to practice in that Respondent:
a. Repeatedly prescribed and administered unproven and medically unnecessary treatments to AC despite the lack of empirical research demonstrating the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment plans; and
b. Demonstrated extreme departure from rational medical judgment in the care and treatment of AC.

This isn’t a criminal complaint. Rather it is an ethics or “professional regulation” complaint. The disciplinary action called for if the case is proven involves Dr. Usman’s license:

WHEREFORE, based on these allegations, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation of the State of Illinois, by Laura E. Forester, its Chief of Medical Prosecutions, prays that the Physician and Surgeon license of ANJUM I. USMAN, M.D., be revoked, suspended, placed on probation or otherwise disciplined.

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4 Responses to “Defending alternative medicine and autism: the charges against Anju Usman”

  1. Anne October 14, 2011 at 09:25 #

    I was really glad to see this action by a medical board, and hope it sets a precedent. These quacks are endangering lives with their antics, as well as cheating the parents out of money and time that could’ve been spent on things that would provide actual benefit. Just think how many trips to the zoo or iPads/apps could’ve been covered by the cost of all this quackery!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Autism Blog – Defending alternative medicine and autism: the … | My Autism Site | All About Autism - October 14, 2011

    [...] See the original post: Autism Blog – Defending alternative medicine and autism: the … [...]

  2. US Autism Doctor Charged With Unethical Conduct | Care2 Causes - October 15, 2011

    [...] complaint against Dr. Usman charges her with making false or misleading statements regarding the value of [...]

  3. US Autism Doctor Charged With Unethical Conduct | AutismPDA.com - October 15, 2011

    [...] complaint against Dr. Usman charges her with making false or misleading statements regarding the value of [...]

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