The Passing of a Revolutionary Diet Doctor
NEW YORK: On Tuesday, April 8, Dr. Robert C. Atkins slipped on an icy sidewalk outside his Manhattan office and suffered a head injury. After undergoing emergency brain surgery at Cornell University Medical Center in New York City, he remained in a coma until his death on April 17. At age 72, Dr. Atkins still worked full time, attending to patients and overseeing the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine.
Jenny Thompson, a spokesperson for Health Sciences Institute, commented following the death, saying, “HSI has worked closely with Dr. Atkins in the past, and so his death was both a great personal and professional loss. Most of the news stories I read described him as a diet “guru,” and, in the sense that he was an influential, groundbreaking leader in the field of complementary medicine, he was indeed something of a guru—a trusted counselor who helped millions of people regain their physical health with his unconventional ideas about nutrition.”
After many years of abuse by mainstream nutritionists, there was a sea change for Dr. Atkins and the Atkins diet last summer, illustrated by a cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, which showed how a steadily growing minority of establishment researchers were beginning to take seriously the low-carbohydrate diet made famous by the author of Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.
Over the course of 30 years, Dr. Atkins never wavered from his controversial dietary ideas. In a nutshell, the Atkins plan advises us to eat as much meat and other high protein and high fat foods as we care to, while avoiding starches and refined carbohydrates such as breads, pasta, rice, and sugars. This plan has won many millions of readers worldwide, but has drawn numerous, often passionate attacks from the nutrition and diet establishment.
The American Heart Association has long condemned the Atkins diet as an unhealthy regimen for the cardiovascular system. So it must have been thoroughly galling to many in the AHA “low-fat” camp when the results of a Duke University study were announced last November, as part of the 75th annual AHA meeting. In all of the heart health categories in that trial, the Atkins diet scored equal or higher marks than the AHA’s “Step 1” low-fat diet.
This was a major victory for Dr. Atkins—to be vindicated with prestigious research, and to have it announced in the camp of his most vocal detracters.
Health Sciences Institute www.hsbaltimore.com
Traveling Chiropractor Accused of Practicing without License
FLORIDA: A doctor and his wife who travelled the country performing what investigators said was an unusual form of therapy were arrested last month, accused of practicing without a license in Florida.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office charged Dr. Dean Howell and his wife, Trisha Howell, of Tonasket, WA, with practicing naturopathy, massage therapy and chiropractic medicine without a license after arresting them at an acupuncturist’s office in Cocoa, FL.
According to Howell’s Web site, the procedure, known as neurocranial restructuring, or NCR, involves a combination of deep muscle massage and the brief insertion of inflatable balloons into a patient’s nose and throat to return the body to its natural shape. The site says the procedure can help ailments ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to wrinkles within four days.
Howell was licensed in the state of Washington, though that license was suspended in 1989 for five years, said Karen Newell, an investigative technician with the Sheriff’s Office.
Newell said an insurance company tipped the Orlando Health Department that Howell was not licensed in Florida. A schedule on Howell’s Web site indicated that he would be in Cocoa Beach between May 8-11.
The Howells have been released on bonds and are scheduled to appear in court in early June.
State Licensing Boards Can’t Get Quorums to Work
GEORGIA: Several state licensing boards were forced to call off their May meetings because they couldn’t get enough people to make a quorum.
The Georgia Board of Chiropractic Examiners only had one member on its six-person board. The meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum.
Three other state professional licensing boards—for dispensing opticians, for licensed dietitians and for private detectives and security agencies—called off their meetings for the same reason, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution..
Five other boards were also left without quorums after the state Senate refused, on the last day of the legislative session, to confirm members that then-Gov. Roy Barnes had appointed since the previous General Assembly.
The situation has thrown professionals all over the state into turmoil as they wait to receive licenses or have their licenses renewed, the Atlanta newspaper reported. Consumers who have filed complaints also have to wait, because such disciplinary actions as a fine or expulsion cannot be taken without a vote by the licensing board.
The Senate confirmed only forty of the 210 appointments Barnes made to boards, commissions and authorities.
Clermont Physician Cleared of Malpractice
FLORIDA: A six-member jury last month dismissed claims that Clermont chiropractor Kenneth Felt acted irresponsibly in caring for an elderly patient who broke her right hip.
Marguerite Leggett, 74, filed a civil complaint against Felt and Clermont Chiropractic in October 2001 claiming Felt should have prevented her from falling onto the floor during an examination.
Felt had asked Leggett, during a Sept. 23, 1999, examination to turn onto her back during a spinal manipulation treatment. Leggett, who was lying on her stomach, reportedly put her right leg on the floor in attempting to stand to shift her position when her leg gave way and she fell to the floor.
The fall broke her hip. She has had to have three hip surgeries since the fall, her attorney Linda Schwichtenberg of Orlando said.
A half dozen experts testified during the three-day civil trial trying to determine the exact cause and time of the hip fracture and whether Felt acted properly during the examination.
Pembroke chiropractor Donald Woeltjen, who testified for Felt, said examiners do not normally help patients shift their position in order to avoid hurting them.
He also said getting off a 22-inch exam table is not a difficult task requiring additional assistance.
“Getting off that table is not different than getting out of bed,” he said.
Felt’s attorney, Kurt Spengler of Orlando, argued that Felt followed standard procedures during the examination.
Damaging Report, Highlights Chiropractic Costs
CALIFORNIA: Chiropractic costs and frequency of services have increased noticeably in California, which spells bad news for the industry.
A report released by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CCWI) shows a 153-percent increase in chiropractic costs from 1996 to 2001 and an increase from 59 to 120 in the average number of chiropractic procedures per claim. The study shows that though the percentage of claims involving chiropractic treatment dropped from 1993 to 2000, the amount paid for chiropractic care increased.
The report states that chiropractors are now the leading medical providers in California’s worker compensation system, news that only fuels the fire for insurers and employers pushing state lawmakers to control medical costs. Legislation already introduced in the state senate would limit chiropractic visits to fifteen per year.
Nationally Syndicated Comic Strip Highlights Chiropractic
The widely read “Broom Hilda” comic strip featured an amusing and very positive depiction of the role chiropractors play in caring for the daily health needs of people. The March 23rd edition of the comic strip showed a chiropractor’s office filled with people injured doing their spring gardening. While comic, the intention of the creator, Russell Myers, served as a reminder to millions of readers that doctors of chiropractic are there when you need them, whatever the season. To view this great positive message, visit the Broom Hilda website at http://www.comicspage.com/broomhilda/ and go to the March 23rd archive.
Court Approves $470 Million Dollar Settlement in Aetna Case
NEW YORK: On May 29, U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno of the Southern District of Florida preliminarily approved a settlement agreement announced earlier between Aetna and the plaintiffs representing over 700,000 physicians, state and other medical societies.
The ruling conditionally certifies a class for settlement of physicians who provided services to Aetna or any of the other defendants, allows notice to be sent out to class members informing them of the agreement and schedules a fairness hearing for October 13, 2003, whereby the judge will consider whether to finally approve the settlement presented by the plaintiffs and Aetna.
In reaction to the decision by Judge Moreno, Tim Norbeck, Executive Director of the Connecticut State Medical Society commented today: “This country’s patients and physicians alike should hail Judge Federico Moreno for his approval of the Aetna settlement with 700,000 medical doctors on terms that will favor their patients’ actual medical care over the intrusive technicalities and oppressive minutiae that have long plagued managed care systems.
“We recognize Judge Moreno for his pioneering the way by which health insurers and medical societies can come together in the interest of their common constituency—the patients that insurers and physicians alike are pledged to serve. This historic settlement gives everyone reason for optimism and it is Judge Moreno’s wisdom that has made possible the better healthcare system that will result for all.”
Judge Dismisses Chiropractors’ Case Against Trigon
VIRGINIA: In what defense lawyers are calling a significant victory for the managed-care industry, a federal court in Virginia has granted a health insurer summary judgment in a lawsuit alleging antitrust conspiracy.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granted summary judgment to Trigon Healthcare Inc.—which merged with Anthem Inc. (NYSE:ATH) in July 2002—in a lawsuit brought by the American Chiropractic Association, the Virginia Chiropractic Association and individual chiropractors.
Plaintiffs had said the case was the most significant legal action ever taken by the chiropractic profession against the insurance industry and called it a test of future action, according to a statement from Trigon’s attorneys at McGuireWoods law firm. The court also said Trigon wasn’t liable for attempted monopolization because it didn’t compete in the market for treatment of neuromusculoskeletal disorders, the attorneys said.
The ACA, VCA and ICA called the opinion from U.S. District Judge James P. Jones “legally and factually wrong” and “full of holes.” They will “vigorously appeal” the unfavorable ruling.
Chiro Wire TAC