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Autism Bioethics Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Justice rolls along in the case of Dr. Roy Kerry, negligent chelation killer

It may take a long time, but sometimes justice does eventually move to act against a wrong:

A Butler County doctor will stand trial on charges he caused the death of a 5-year-old autistic boy by negligently ordering a controversial treatment, a district judge ordered Thursday.

Dr. Roy Kerry of Portersville ordered chelation therapy – which the federal Food and Drug Administration approves for treating acute heavy-metal poisoning, but not for autism – on Abubakar Tariq Nadama in 2005. During a third treatment, on Aug. 23, the boy went into cardiac arrest and died.

Kerry, 69, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment.

A pediatrician called to testify during Kerry’s preliminary hearing yesterday accused him of “extreme recklessness” because he prescribed the wrong chemical, and because he ordered it in an IV push — administering all the medication intravenously at once — rather than injecting it over the course of several hours.

It still irritates me that this whole “wrong medication” thing is being repeated. It was more than the case of the “wrong medication” given by IV push, instead of over several hours. It was much more than this, and I blame the CDC for foolishly having said this in the first place. What this was was a case of using a therapy that has no sound scientific or clinical rationale why it should work and no scientific evidence that it does work to do anything to relieve the symptoms of autism, leading to Dr. Kerry’s exposing a five year old child to all of the risks of chelation therapy, with no potential for any benefit. Worse, Kerry is still practicing medicine:

Lindsay said Kerry is still practicing medicine. The Pennsylvania Department of State has charged him with practicing medicine negligently and unprofessional conduct. He faces suspension, revocation or restriction of his medical license and fines of up to $10,000 for each violation.

That Dr. Kerry still has a license to practice medicine after his clean kill of an autistic boy is beyond outrageous. Even if you buy into the argument that his only mistake was to administer the medication incorrectly, he should have been stripped of his medical license two years ago:

His attorney, Al Lindsay, said Kerry should not be tried on criminal charges because he did not intentionally harm the boy.

Carrasco said ignorance is not a defense.

“I cannot comprehend someone using (the chemical) in an IV push for this,” said Carrasco, whom prosecutors called as a pediatric and child maltreatment expert. “How can you not know? You cannot be licensed to practice medicine if you don’t know why medications are being used.”

Exactly. Even when it comes to medications that have scientific and clinical evidence of efficacy, a physician should not be prescribing them unless he understands how they work and what the expected and possible adverse effects are. When a patient dies because of a physician’s double ignorance (namely that the medication should never have been used in the first place for the condition being treated and that he botched its administration in a way that killed the patient), there is no forgiveness. There should be no second chance.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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