With traditional health care costs skyrocketing higher than ever – for those who are actually able to pay for it – alternative medicine has become increasingly more popular. Alternative medicine, as defined by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, is “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” This can include herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic care, and yoga, among others.
Overall, Americans spent more than $30 billion out-of-pocket on alternative health care products and procedures in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. This figure represents about 9 percent of all out-of-pocket health care spending in the United States. If an herbal supplement or alternative treatment has left you or a family member seriously ill, you could have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Get in touch with an experienced medical injury lawyer as soon as possible.
- In 2012, nearly a third of American adults were employing alternative medicines.
- Fish oil remains the single most popular “natural” product with nearly 8 percent of adults taking them.
- The vast majority of medical schools now offer courses in natural and alternative medicine.
- Nearly 10 percent of adults practice yoga, twice as many as 10 years earlier.
Alternative Medicine Risks
Alternative medicine should never be used as a replacement for traditional, scientifically substantiated health care. At best it can result in delayed treatment. At worst, it can prove fatal. For example, a recent National Institutes of Health study found that cancer patients who relied solely on alternative medicine were two-and-a-half times more likely to die within six years. Colorectal cancer patients, in particular, were four times more likely to die from the disease.
Other risks, according to research published in Science-Based Medicine, an online journal, include:
- Colon cleansing, which can result in amebiasis, a ruptured colon, and gangrene.
- Herbal supplements, generally speaking, can interact badly with other supplements or medicines. More specifically, research shows they can lead to fulminant hepatic failure, bladder cancer, poisoning, and even severe bleedings.
- Acupuncture can cause hepatitis C or even a collapsed lung.
- Chiropractic treatment, poorly executed, can lead to “vertebral artery dissection and stroke, pediatric subarachnoid hemorrhage, paralysis, and misdiagnosed meningitis.”
Before engaging in any alternative treatment, do your homework. If there is no published research regarding any given treatment, steer clear. Always consult with your family doctor before pursing any course of alternative treatment. And investigate potential side effects of any herbal supplements you might be considering.
However, if you or someone you love has been left seriously injured after an alternative therapy or supplement, it is crucial you consult with a Phoenix malpractice lawyer as quickly as possible. Call Burg Simpson Arizona today at 602-777-7000, or you can complete our Free Case Evaluation Form here so we can go over the specifics of your situation.