Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Naturopath guilty of malpractice

Because if you’re going to make health claims and claim to treat patients, you should be held just as accountable as any physician:

A Carson City “anti-aging” doctor has pleaded guilty to malpractice for failing to diagnose an elderly patient with the cancer that ultimately killed him.

It is Dr. Frank Anthony Shallenberger’s second discipline by the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners in 12 years.

Shallenberger’s plea last week regarding patient David Horton’s care came on the heels of the board’s dismissal of another family’s complaint related to Shallenberger’s treatment of their sister, Ellen Gallagher, of Sacramento, who died on Labor Day 2006.

Get a load of the treatments used:

In February 2000, Horton complained to Shallenberger of rectal bleeding and abdominal pain — symptoms of colon cancer. But the medical board complaint said Shallenberger told Horton, formerly of Carson City, that he suffered from hemorrhoids and advised him to use suppositories and take baths in witch hazel.

“At no time from the initial presentation of (Horton’s) medical symptoms did he examine the patient, order a test or record in the medical records why those actions weren’t taken,” Cousineau said.

“If you ask a beginning medical school class what is at the top of your list for a 75-year-old man with rectal bleeding and abdominal pain, it’s colon cancer,” said Horton’s daughter-in-law, Dr. Katherine Gundling, an internist who heads the allergy and immunology clinic at the University of California, San Francisco.

“You rule that out first and worry about the rest later,” she said. “Shallenberger’s treatment was unbelievable.”

I can’t emphasize how much just how bad this is. In a person over 50, rectal bleeding must be presumed to be colorectal cancer until proven otherwise by colonoscopy. Period. It’s not even arguable that cancer has to be ruled out in a patient presenting with these symptoms.

Even more unbelievably, Horton went back Shallenberg after his diagnosis for further treatment, which shows the power incompetent practitioners can still sometimes hold over even patients whom they’ve messed up badly.

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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