As promised, the Chicago Tribune served up the followup article to its expose of father-and-son autism quacks Mark and David Geier. This time around, the Trib takes on Dr. Mayer Eisenstein of the woo-friendly suburban Chicago medical practice known as Homefirst in two articles, Autism doctor: Troubling record trails doctor treating autism and Dr. Peter Rosi places blame on some parents for their babies’ deaths (Dr. Rosi is one of Homefirst’s longest-serving doctors). The reason Dr. Eisenstein came to the Trib’s attention is because (1) he has started using the Geiers’ Lupron protocol and (2) he is speaking at the yearly Chicago quackfest known as Autism One.
We’ve met Dr. Eisenstein before because he is one of the luminaries of the anti-vaccine movement. Specifically, he made a completely unscientific claim that in his practice there is practically no autism among his unvaccinated patients. Indeed, he went even beyond that by saying, “I don’t think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines.” Of course, this was so obviously a data-free case of selective memory and confirmation bias as to be utterly risible. Later, Dr. Eisenstein’s storpy morphed into Dan Olmsted’s breathlessly stating, “Check out Homefirst Medical Services in Chicago where careful, computerized records show thousands of never-vaccinated kids, and almost no autism or asthma.” The Trib article reveals him to be a master of Quack-Fu Fallacies in terms of his excuses and beliefs:
- No vaccine and more vitamin D = no autism
- Antivaccine wingnuttery: He said he became passionate about vaccine risks when years ago he listened to Leonard Horowitz, a dentist whose Web site describes him as a “prophet” and is now promoting the theory that bioengineers produced swine flu “in a conspiracy to commit genocide.” Horowitz, Eisenstein said, “was talking about AIDS and Ebola and autism and asthma and allergies, and he linked it all to vaccines.”
- The pharma shill gambit: Eisenstein, who calls the American Academy of Pediatrics the “American Academy of Pharmaceuticals,” dismisses the many peer-reviewed studies that failed to find a link between autism and vaccines as “fake studies.”
- The “Hitler Zombie chomped my brain” gambit: Vaccine proponents won’t admit this because, he said, “Every doctor now essentially in this country has done something as heinous as the Nazis did, unknowingly.”
But the most disturbing facts I gleaned from this article were to come:
Eisenstein said he decided to Lupron injections because his don’t-vaccinate message couldn’t help children who already got their shots. “I never saw it as a moneymaking venture,” he said of the treatment, which can cost $6,000 a month. “It was more the angst I felt meeting so many of these families who were in a sense saying, ‘Come on, Mayer, you’ve done so many things for so many people. Can’t you help here?’ ”
But the long process of winning insurance approval for the treatments has frustrated him. He wonders how much longer he’ll continue to treat patients with the drug.
“The concern in my mind is that Blue Cross will say, ‘You can’t do this,’ ” he said.
In other words, Dr. Eisenstein doesn’t care so much if the Geiers’ Lupron quackery works or not. He only cares if insurance will pay him for it. The article also shows him to be prone to–well, let’s just say prone to “embellishing” the truth, which makes me wonder how much he’s “embellished” his claims that unvaccinated children in his practice don’t get autism. He doesn’t necessarily have to be lying, but my guess is that he doesn’t have the records and uses confirmation bias and selective memory to make such claims.
Even worse, there have been a string of malpractice suits against his practice for birth injuries and deaths that raise a serious red flag.
But if you want the most despicable comment from the Trib’s reporting, it doesn’t come from Dr. Eisenstein. Rather, it comes from his partner, Dr. Peter Rosi, who, when questioned about multiple infant deaths occurring during home births at which he was the attending physician, he replied:
“The doctors in the majority try to use the legal system to disable or destroy doctors in the minority,” he said.
Families allege that Rosi repeatedly made mistakes during home births and pediatric care that led to children dying or suffering brain damage, court records show.
In an interview, Rosi blamed some of the parents for their babies’ deaths.
“Eighty percent of complications in childbirth are psychological,” he said. “Babies can be killed by a mother’s attitude.”
Way to show empathy to parents who’ve just lost their babies in childbirth thanks to your ideological commitment to home birth no matter what mixed with your incompetence, dirtbag.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about Dr. Eisenstein and his crew, though, it’s that they are so much like the usual “alt-med” mavens that it’s scary. To them, everyone is out to get them for their “brave maverick” views, and, when complications occur or the law comes knocking to ask them why they are playing fast and loose with insurance and finances, it’s never, ever their fault.