Naturopath guilty of malpractice

Because if you’re going to make health claims and claim to treat patients, you should be held just as accountable as any physician:

A Carson City “anti-aging” doctor has pleaded guilty to malpractice for failing to diagnose an elderly patient with the cancer that ultimately killed him.

It is Dr. Frank Anthony Shallenberger’s second discipline by the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners in 12 years.

Shallenberger’s plea last week regarding patient David Horton’s care came on the heels of the board’s dismissal of another family’s complaint related to Shallenberger’s treatment of their sister, Ellen Gallagher, of Sacramento, who died on Labor Day 2006.

Get a load of the treatments used:

In February 2000, Horton complained to Shallenberger of rectal bleeding and abdominal pain — symptoms of colon cancer. But the medical board complaint said Shallenberger told Horton, formerly of Carson City, that he suffered from hemorrhoids and advised him to use suppositories and take baths in witch hazel.

“At no time from the initial presentation of (Horton’s) medical symptoms did he examine the patient, order a test or record in the medical records why those actions weren’t taken,” Cousineau said.

“If you ask a beginning medical school class what is at the top of your list for a 75-year-old man with rectal bleeding and abdominal pain, it’s colon cancer,” said Horton’s daughter-in-law, Dr. Katherine Gundling, an internist who heads the allergy and immunology clinic at the University of California, San Francisco.

“You rule that out first and worry about the rest later,” she said. “Shallenberger’s treatment was unbelievable.”

I can’t emphasize how much just how bad this is. In a person over 50, rectal bleeding must be presumed to be colorectal cancer until proven otherwise by colonoscopy. Period. It’s not even arguable that cancer has to be ruled out in a patient presenting with these symptoms.

Even more unbelievably, Horton went back Shallenberg after his diagnosis for further treatment, which shows the power incompetent practitioners can still sometimes hold over even patients whom they’ve messed up badly.