Why not just castrate them? (Part 8): The State of Maryland moves against David Geier

Well, well, well, well.

Remember how recently autism quack Dr. Mark Geier finally ran afoul of Maryland’s medical board for subjecting autistic children to unethical and potentially dangerous treatments with Lupron? Briefly, his license was suspended on an emergency basis, and, as a result, a lot of attention was brought to bear not just on the father, but on his son David Geier as well, who had been working with his father for years and, to all appearances, practicing medicine without a license. Personally, ever since I first learned of Mark and David Geier’s dubious medicine six years ago, I always wondered how they could get away with it for so long. In particular, I wondered how David Geier, who has no medical degree–actually no degree at all that would qualify him to participate in the care of patients, no nursing degree, no degree to be a medical tech, nothing–managed for so long to be his father’s right hand man. Either he had to be very careful not to do anything that could be considered patient care, or he had to be extremely fortunate that he got away with it for so long.

It turns out that he was extremely fortunate for having gotten away with it for so long:

The Maryland panel that oversees doctors in the state has charged a man with practicing medicine without a license just weeks after his father’s license was suspended for putting autistic children at risk.

The Maryland Board of Physicians says David Geier worked with his father, Dr. Mark Geier, at the Rockville and Owings Mills offices of Genetic Consultants of Maryland, where they used a drug therapy that autism experts say is based on junk science.

The pair has built a national following among parents who believe autism is linked to the mercury in vaccines, a theory discredited by mainstream medicine. They developed a treatment using Lupron, a testosterone suppressant approved for prostate cancer and ovarian fibroids, as well as in chemically castrating sex offenders.

In children, it’s used for “precocious puberty,” which the board said Mark Geier over-diagnosed in autistic children.

J. Steven Wise, a lawyer for the Geiers, said Thursday that David Geier “categorically denies the charges.” Mark Geier has already appealed his suspension.

I’ve written extensively about the Geiers’ quackery before, beginning over five years ago. Basically, somehow the Geiers came up with an idea so wrong it’s not even wrong, a spinoff of the scientifically discredited notion that autism is “mercury toxicity” due to the thimerosal preservative that used to be in many childhood vaccines. Somehow, some way, the Geiers got it in their head that testosterone binds mercury and that decreasing levels of testosterone would therefore make chelation therapy work better to get rid of that nonexistent mercury toxicity. Never mind that there’s no evidence that testosterone binds to mercury the way the Geiers claim under physiological conditions. Worse, in order to get the expensive drug Lupron paid for by third party payors, the Geiers had a propensity to diagnose many of their patients with “precocious puberty,” whether they met the medical criteria for the diagnosis or not, sometimes whether they had undergone puberty at a normal age or not. Worse, their quackery metastasized to different states, as the Geiers set up a veritable chain of autism treatment clinics promoting their protocol.

As usual, Kathleen Seidel is already on the case. She’s even posted the actual charges against David Geier. In brief, David Geier has been (appropriately, in my opinion) charged with practicing medicine without a license. Examples are listed, including:

17. Parent A scheduled an appointment for Patient A to be seen by Dr. Geier on May 19, 2008 at the Genetic Centers of America’s office in Rockville, Maryland.

18. On May 19, 2008, after waiting with her son for approximately One (1) hour in the waiting room, Parent A and her son were taken to an office where the Respondent was seated behind a desk.

19. Parent A and the Respondent discussed genetic testing for approximately the first half-hour of the visit.

20. Parent A reported that the Respondent, after asking very few questions regarding Patient A’s medical history and symptoms, told her that he was absolutely certain that her son seemed to be a “typical high-testosterone kid” whose growth would be stunted if his testosterone production continued at its current pace.

21. Board staff interviewed Parent A during the course of the investigation, Parent A stated that she did not recall whether the Respondent had identified himself as a physician at the May 19, 2008 office visit; however, she had assumed that the Respondent was a physician because he was the only person with whom she had spoken about her son at that visit. She also noted that the Respondent “had this certainty about him.”

22. At no time during the May 19, 2008 office visit did Parent A see, much less speak to, Dr. Geier. The Respondent was the only person who examined her son.

23. According to Parent A, the Respondent performed an ultrasound examination on Patient A, who by then was too restless to sit or lie still on the examining table. The Respondent told Parent A that he needed an ultrasound of Patient A’s thyroid. The Respondent followed Patient A as Patient A walked around the room, attempting to examine his neck and abdomen by tapping him with the ultrasound wand.

I’m sorry, but if this is true, it’s a slam dunk case. David Geier not only took a medical history, made diagnoses, and even performed a medical test on the child. David Geier didn’t even have the training to be an ultrasound technician, much less to do a history and physical on a patient and diagnose him with “precocious puberty.” Among the charges listed is that the clinic note for the visit recorded that the patient had undergone a “comprehensive” abdominal and a thyroid ultrasounds. As if that weren’t enough, David Geier also noted a “psychological examination,” in which he recorded, “It is apparent based upon examination of the DSM-IV criteria that [Patient A]’s present symptoms are compatible with a diagnosis of pervasive developmental delay – not otherwise specified (sic).” That’s clearly making a diagnosis. David Geier then ordered a battery of 26 laboratory tests. For all this and evaluations over the course of four visits, the parents were billed a total of over $1,000.

Similar stories are documented for Patients B, C, and D, as well as postings by parents in Internet discussion forums that describe Mark and David Geier as “working as a team” and describe other incidents of David Geier seeing patients and practicing medicine without a license. At this point in my career, I’ve held medical licenses in four different states. I still hold a medical license in two states. Having gone through the process of obtaining a medical license in four states, it boggles my mind that someone like David Geier can do the things he’s done and that he’s been able to do them for six years. We can only hope that this time the full force of the law comes down on Geier père et fils. Still, even that’s not enough. Here’s hoping that the full force of the law comes down on this not-so-dynamic duo hard in every state in which they’ve subjected an autistic child to what is in essence chemical castration.

Finally, not long ago, I asked why the autism biomed movement so loves Andrew Wakefield but not Mark and David Geier, why it’s willing to circle the wagons and attack those trying to stop Wakefield but, apparently, not the Geiers. I have to wonder whether even these latest charges will be enough for the quackfest known as Autism One to boot Mark and David Geier from its list of speakers.

My guess is, even though the Geiers don’t get the same love Wakefield does, their prosecution will revive their cachet.